Tag Archives: travel

Member Spotlight: Sam McClure

sheep feeding

Roots:
I am a gypsy, having grown up in Brussels, the Philippines and London before moving to the US in high school. In the US, I’ve lived in Connecticut, New York, Boston, Seattle, Miami and Chicago. I’ve been in Austin for 25 years, which is hard to believe given the transient nature of the first half of my life.

Family life:
I’m married to Tim, and we have two magnificent children, Madison (23) and Ian (21).

Work life:
Travel Advisor, owner of Small World Travel

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience…
I am so inspired by all of the iGnite leaders and have learned that it’s never to late to find your strength.

The best advice I’ve been given…
My family has a motto: “If you never go, you never know.” I’m not sure who started it, but we pretty much live by it.

I am looking forward to…
A surprise (to Tim, I of course have planned every detail) 25th Anniversary trip to Europe in April. It’s a secret, but it involves the Venice Simplon Orient Express train from Venice to Paris.

My celebrity look alike is…
I’ve been told Audrey Hepburn. Not quite sure she’d agree, but she was so elegant and a beautiful humanitarian, that I would certainly like to emulate her.

Member Spotlight: Melinda Twomey


Roots:

I was born in New York City and raised mostly just outside New York in Englewood, New Jersey. We have lived in Austin for 16 years.

Basic Family Stats:IMG_1621-1
I have been married to Barry Twomey for 26 blissful years, and we are blessed to have four wonderful children: Paul (sophomore at Beloit College in Wisconsin), Margot (sophomore at University of Texas in Austin), Laura (freshman at Trinity University in San Antonio) and Mark (high school senior at AESA Prep Ac
ademy).

Current/Previous Occupation:
After attending Smith College and Columbia School of International Affairs, I worked in New York at several investment banks until retiring to be a full time mom. I currently serve on the boards of Fountain Valley School of Colorado and Tomorrow’s Children Foundation.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
The biggest lesson I have learned through iGnite is to try new things! iGnite had literally been on my mind to try for years, but I was just too stuck to my routine. I finally made the leap in April, and the rest is history – thank goodness!

Who inspires you the most and why?
My girlfriends inspire me the most. They are smart, informed, readers of great books, travelers of the world, givers to those in need, sensitive, funny, interesting, fun, loving and humble. How lucky am I?!

In my free time…
I like to travel, hike, ski, read, do jigsaw puzzles, watch Homeland, Downton Abbey and House of Cards, work on my photography skills, spend time with family and friends, and most of all, I love to iGnite!

What is your guilty pleasure?
I only have two guilty pleasures: Chardonnay and Kone coffee (which we actually order from Hawaii).

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Member Spotlight: Nancy Dacy

IMG_4010Roots:
I grew up in Midland, Texas. I came to Austin in 1975 as a Junior in college to attend The University of Texas as a transfer from SMU. I have been here…wow…40 years.

Family Life:
I have been married to David, an Austin native, for 35 years. We met here at UT. We have 3 children: Catherine, 29, Christopher, AKA “Cricker” 28 and Alexis, 24. And as I am sure everyone knows, we have 2 grandchildren: Grayson, 3 1/2, and Madison, 4 months.

Current/Previous Occupation:
I taught Kindergarten a LONG time ago. I have done a little health coaching but primarily I have lived my adult life volunteering in many different capacities. My focus now is the Helping Hand Home for Children.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
I have gained so much from iGnite, but I think the biggest lesson is that I/we are capable of doing so much more than we think we are. We just need to take advantage of opportunities and with encouragement, all we need to do is step out of our comfort zone and give things a try. You never know until you try. As I have said, I never dreamed I would be surfing without a rope on my 60th birthday. That was 100% iGnite and Kathleen.

Best advice given and from who:
Not sure where I heard this but it has stuck with me ever since: Everyone takes responsibility for their own happiness. Happiness is a choice that comes from within. Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections. There are choices you can make every day to feel the effects of happiness. Choose to do something meaningful. Choose to take care of your body. Choose to be around the right people. Choose a good attitude. Choose to express gratitude. Choose to forgive. Choose to focus on what you have, not on what you haven’t.

In my free time…
My first choice is to be on the lake. It is truly my happy place. I love to travel – just need to do more of it. I am working on a needlepoint stocking for Madison, my granddaughter. So, more time than usual, is spent in front of a LifeTime movie stitching. Otherwise, I am with Madison and Grayson a lot.

Who is your celebrity look alike?
Well, for some reason, people are ALWAYS telling me I look like someone they know. It is really the oddest thing. But, for many years, everywhere I went (and I am truly not exaggerating), people told me I look like Cindy Brooks who used to anchor the Channel 5 news here in Austin. I had no idea who she was because I didn’t watch that channel. Finally, I did. Of course, I didn’t really see the resemblance. Many people said it was the smile. And…again, I don’t see it, but many people have told me I look like Jane Fonda. All I can picture is Monster In Law.

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Member Spotlight: Sharon Wilson


Roots:

I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but we moved to Austin when I was 10 months old in 1963. I’ve lived in Austin for 51 years and consider myself almost a native Austinite.

Basic family stats:
I’m a single mother of three daughters. I’ve had the privilege of raising them all by myself with the help of my parents and brothers. Catherine (23) is a second year law student at SMU, Caroline (21) is in the ACCESS Program at Texas School for the Deaf, and Claire (19) is a sophomore at UT. And…if you have any single men friends, I am available and single myself right now.

iGnite - Sharon WilsonCurrent/Previous Occupation:
I worked in my family’s business for 15 years and retired when my dad sold the company in 1995. I was pregnant with my third daughter, Claire, so I became a full-time mom and part-time tennis player and volunteer. I was president of the Women’s Symphony League three years ago, and I walk and house sit dogs about 5 hours per week because I love animals and need to stay active.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
The biggest lesson that I learned through iGnite is that I can do the things that the 19-40 year olds do. I may not be able to that day, and certainly not as fast or huffing and puffing, but I can do whatever my mind decides I can do. We are all strong and capable of amazing things. We’re women — duh!

Who inspires me most:
I think I am inspired most by my daughter, Caroline. She is happy, healthy and super fun despite her multi handicaps and challenges. Because she does not hear or speak, she was never taught the concepts of: fear, judgement, unkindness, etc. She has never given up and crawled in a corner even after seizing 50-60 times per day during her childhood years. She continues to progress, learn and try. She inspires me every day. She was not in my plan of “non-typical” children, but God decided she belonged with our family, and heck yes — WE’LL TAKE HER!

Most people don’t know:
I’ve flown the Concorde. My grandmother decided I needed to go travel with her before I “tied the knot” in 1990, and we headed to Europe and North Africa on different trips. She had a life-long love of travel and the education that came with travel. At 73, she hadn’t flown the Concorde and Mach speed, so off we went!

Three words to describe myself:
Quiet, persuasive and POSITIVE!

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Member Spotlight: Susan Palombo

      Susan with her sweet father

                Susan with her sweet dad

Roots:
I was born and raised in Tulsa, OK, went to UT Austin for undergraduate (Plan II), then moved to Minneapolis, MN and lived there for 30 years. We have been back in Austin for 1 year and are loving it!

Basic Family Stats:
I have been married for 32 years to John Palombo. We have three children. Nick, 26, is a middle school science teacher in St. Louis. Michael, 22, and his twin sister, Megan, graduated in May — Michael from Vanderbilt and Megan from UT Austin. Michael has moved to Austin for a job with GLG Consulting, and Megan is interviewing.

Current/Previous Occupation:
I love my career, which is helping individuals and families feel better about their path to reach their family, foundation and financial goals through our Wealth Management practice with Merrill Lynch.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
Working out with positive trainers and friends outside in the Austin sunshine with iGnite is such a fabulous experience. Working out doesn’t have to be “bootcamp with pain and suffering!”

Best advice I’ve been given:
Through his wonderful examples, my 90 year old active and healthy father has taught me so much. One particularly pertinent lesson is: Listen more, talk less.

In my free time, I like to:
Be outdoors in nature, read and get together with family and friends.

If I were a pair of shoes, I would be:
I still have my hiking boots from 5th grade, and I think I would be them. They are long-lasting and reliable, strong and functional, outdoors-loving, well-loved leather
with beautiful patina and comfortable and sturdy boots. They have traveled a lot of miles, covered a variety of terrain, scaled some altitude, grown up and matured, made some mistakes, saved my life and witnessed a lot of conversations by hundreds of bonfires. These boots have lots of energy and endurance. They have been a good friend to me. I hope that I can be that good of a friend to others.

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20 Austin Restaurants Not to Miss

20 Austin Restaurants Not to Miss

Living in a city that’s become such a hot destination spot has many perks — one of the best being that there are now endless options for fantastic food in Austin. But how do you sort through the clutter when there’s a new “hip” and “must-try” restaurant on every corner?  Here to help you out is our iGnite team of Austin locals, sharing our favorite spots.  Go with one of these the next time you’re visiting Austin, or, if you’re a fellow local, the next time you’re looking for a great meal or place to take your out-of-town guests, and you can’t go wrong!

Dinner & Drinks

Vino Vino

Vino Vino: “Easy to get to and easy to park, this cozy eatery has the absolute KINDEST staff you will ever meet in your life. They have known you forever from the moment you walk in the door, and the food is fresh and unique, with flavors and textures that dance on your tongue. The wine choices are diverse, and my husband and I go crazy, ordering and splitting delicious things. I love this place…ask to say hi to Kelly, the manager, because he will make you happy that you have just made a new friend.”
Cary

Justine’s Brasserie

Justine’s Brasserie on east 5th: “Such a treat! It has a great inside vibe and a wonderful outside atmosphere as well. Totally delicious French experience, but with a casual Austin flare. The food is delicious and their specialty bar drinks are fantastic! For a cocktail, try the refreshingly lemony French 76. They have wonderful appetizers — I recommend the smoked salmon, then go for a classic, Steak Frites! They also have one of the best burgers in town!  Take your time and enjoy the evening 🙂 ”
Sha

Launderette

Launderette: “This darling restaurant is located in an old laundromat in East Austin. It has an extensive veggie section to the menu with yummy brussell sprouts, zucchini salad, cauliflower gratin and more. It is portioned to share, so it’s perfect for date night or to go with girlfriends!”
Delaine

Perla’s

Perla’s: “One of my favorite “fancy” spots! I love seafood, and I think Perla’s has a wonderfully varied menu. Plus, the champagne cocktail and hushpuppies are amazing!!”
Molly

Second Bar + Kitchen

Second Bar + Kitchen downtown at 2nd & Congress: “This place is great for high quality late-night dining. I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve gotten here. Unlike most restaurants, they serve dinner until 11:30pm Sunday-Thursday and until 1:30am Friday & Saturday! It’s the perfect fun place to grab a really great meal after doing something fun downtown when you want to stay in the thick of everything! With everything from black truffle pomme frites, to cheese boards, yummy small plates, soups, salads, incredible pizzas, steaks, seafood and a huge drink menu, you really can’t go wrong 🙂 We go here every time my in-laws are in town because they just can’t get their last meal there of their minds!”
Catherine

 Zax Restaurant & Bar

Zax is definitely at the top of my list because it is centrally located, has great quality and a great variety of food, and it’s one of the few places that all 5 of my family members love! Thus it has become our Easter brunch spot (they have GREAT brunches), nice family dinner spot and great place to take out-of-town guests. I can order Zax Salad with jerk salmon, my husband can get the Sesame Crusted Tuna, my son Mitch always gets the Classic Burger, daughter Maggie goes for the Chicken Quesadillas and daughter Sarah loves the Frenched Pork Chops. Also, Zax is my favorite spot to meet a friend before going to A Christmas Affair at the Palmer Events Center….their Tortilla Soup and Salad are the perfect pre-shopping meal in November!”
-Amy

Mexican & Tex-Mex

Matt’s El Rancho

“We LOVE Matt’s El Rancho. From the placemats with pictures of the 1950’s unlikely young athlete who started the restaurant, to a window into the tortilla-making room (awesome for keeping the young ones intrigued)…Matt’s is just a happy place. Every time we are there, at least three tables around us break into the happy birthday song, and (I swear, just look around), EVERYBODY is smiling. Try the fish tacos…very fresh with a delicious sauce…and the traditional basket of gigantic chips is my warm blanket. When I recently took some friends who don’t get the whole “basket of chips” thing where they live, I realized, for the first time in my life, that I probably eat at least four full tortillas before I actually get my meal at Matt’s…which is really okay…it is…it’s just what we do!
Cary

Fonda San Miguel

Fonda San Miguel is at the top of my list for best interior Mexican food, beautiful decor, always delicious, fresh and dependably good dishes and a great place for happy hour with the hubster or girl friends!  I love their margaritas, salsas, Ceviche las Brisas and redfish!”
Amy

“An oldie but a goodie! I love to go meet girlfriends here for happy hour in the lounge/bar area. Wonderful atmosphere and yummy appetizers — go early on Tuesdays for half-price apps!”
Delaine

Trudy’s

Trudy’s on 30th Street has been my go-to Mexican spot for 9 years! The food and drinks never disappoint, and it’s always fun on game days. When my husband and I can’t think of where to go on a Friday night, we walk over there!”
Molly

Kid-Friendly

Hat Creek Burger Company

“Given the season of my life, my husband and I don’t find much time to go out alone and without our small children, therefore my current favorite Austin restaurant is Hat Creek Burger Company. There are many reasons why I love Hat Creek, with one being that it is totally kid-friendly. At all of their locations there are super fun and creative play areas for children, as well as an outdoor area with flatscreen t.v.’s that allows mom and dad to watch their children while sneaking some peaks at whatever sporting event they have playing. And, it’s super easy for the kids to run from the play area, grab some food, and go play some more. On top of that, the menu is simple yet delicious! They serve hamburgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers (the Hot Dang grain burger created by my good friend Martha Pincoffs!), gluten-free nuggets, regular French fries and sweet potato French Fries (my personal favorite), salads, beer, wine and milkshakes! Does it get any better than that?! In addition, all of their meat is high quality and they are now serving breakfast. I also love Hat Creek because it’s locally owned by Austinite Drew Gressett. As a cherry on top, Hat Creek partners with Mobile Loaves & Fishes and makes 100 fresh burgers everyday and delivered free of charge to those in need in Austin. Now, that’s big time! So, for all of the reasons listed, Hat Creek Burgers is my favorite Austin restaurant 🙂 ”
Neissa

Lunch/Casual

FoodHeads

FoodHeads is my all time favorite! It is located on 34th Street close to Guadalupe. Best food ever! Great salads, amazing sandwiches and even delectable desserts!! I had a big warm brownie covered in chocolate sauce with vanilla ice cream for dessert the other day and it was SOOOO good. It is an old cozy house with indoor or outdoor seating. Very casual–perfect for lunch after workouts in your sweaty gear! The only bad thing is they are not open for dinner : ( Fresh and home made — yum!”
Kathleen

“I love the casual cafe atmosphere and the food is AMAZING! It offers unusual combinations and variations on classic Austin breakfast/brunch/lunch fare, and wholesome, nutritious, locally-sourced ingredients.  I often go with a group of friends for brunch or lunch after a morning run or workout, but I also go with my family — my kids love it too! I usually get the squash sandwich, and they make it vegan for me by leaving off the cheese and pesto and adding avocado instead. I always ask for an extra side of their home-made pickles — so good! They’re the owner Chip’s secret recipe. I also love their breakfast tacos and again they put together wonderful vegan combinations for me; oh and their homemade salsa is the.best. Finally, what I love most about FoodHeads is the people that own and run this little slice of heaven, Chip and Candi Wendt. They are dear friends of mine and just wonderful human beings, and they put their heart and soul into their cafe — they love love love their employees, love love love their customers, and take pride in every plate of delicious food that they serve.”
Alli

Galaxy Cafe

Galaxy Cafe: “The perfect girls night restaurant! Our 6pm evening group eats at Galaxy sometimes after class for a healthy and delicious dinner. When I go to Galaxy, I always seem to stay for a long time visiting with friends and never feel like the staff is rushing me to leave!”
Molly

Mother’s Cafe

Mother’s Cafe has been at the top of my list since I discovered it back in the early 80’s when I moved to Austin. It is my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Austin! It has a cool, eclectic, granola-head vibe, and every dish is wonderful and fresh. You can’t beat the Bueno Burger and side salad with the famous Cashew Tamari dressing. I go there every Mother’s Day with my family (along with other times during the year) and love to sit in the outdoor area with all the plants and goldfish pond.”
Amy

Italian

Juliet Ristorante

“A new favorite of mine is Juliet on Barton Springs Road! Excellent pasta and pizzas and a great wine list. The gluten free pasta is very tasty too.”
Betty

Pieous Pizza

Pieous Pizza is one of my absolute faves! It’s authentic wood-fired Neopolitan pizza in its purest, simplest form- so delicious!  It’s a bit of a drive — it’s right by the Nutty Brown cafe in Dripping Springs, but worth it!  They have incredible salads too, all farm fresh ingredients, homemade dressings, good wines and a fun casual atmosphere.  Get there early though because they run out!”
Jill

Southern Home Cooking

Fixe

“I love Fixe, it’s a fairly new southern cooking restaurant downtown. I love the interior and the atmosphere. The Fixe biscuits are to die for and the deviled eggs are so yummy… and the fried chicken, so if you are in the mood for Southern food and a new downtown hot spot, this is the place. Great cocktails also!”
Jill

Grab & Go

Fresa’s

Fresa’s is healthy drive-thru on Lamar! An Austin-owned restaurant where you can get fresh local chicken, homemade corn tortillas, salads, grilled vegetables, home-made ice creams and more. Their breakfast tacos are great too!”
Delaine 

Royal Blue Grocery

“My husband and I love going to pick up some fun things at Royal Blue Grocery and either taking it all for a picnic or sitting outside in their patio area and eating a casual and tasty, light meal. Their shredded chicken salad is the best in town!”
Catherine

Sushi

Komé Sushi Kitchen

“My husband and I love sushi and enjoy the experience of trying new sushi rolls, but sushi is expensive! Our favorite new spot is Komé on Airport Blvd. It’s delicious, fairly inexpensive (for two people with wine and food, we can eat for $50 total!) and a fun atmosphere. When you walk into the restaurant, all of the sushi chefs greet you out loud with a fun phrase!”
Molly

Cocktails

Garage Cocktail Bar

Garage is a small, moody bar actually hidden away inside a parking garage downtown! You feel like you’ve discovered something secret when you come here. It’s a great place to grab drinks with a group!”
Catherine


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I’ll be Honest, I’m Not Good at Change!

 iGnite - if nothing ever changed

Photo taken by founder Neissa in iGnite member Mary Bell’s flower garden while the Monarch butterflies migrated to Mexico. Be sure to be on the lookout for Monarch butterflies (iGnite’s chosen symbol for strength and grace), as they will be migrating and coming through Austin soon! Devastatingly, since 1990 about 970 billion Monarchs have vanished due to farmers and homeowners spraying herbicides on Milkweed. You can help by planting a lot of Milkweed, which serves as their primary food source, nursery and home.

Point to Ponder:
How do you cope with change?

by Molly Daniels

by Molly Daniels

Change is very hard for me, and I’ve experienced a lot of it in the past three weeks. These recent changes aren’t happening to me personally, but rather to families very near to my heart — special friends who I consider family. As I mentioned in my journal piece about “connectedness,” when I love someone, I love hard, and I attach equally so. Hence, any event that alters that relationship is challenging for me.

I found out several months ago that my closest family friends in Austin were considering a move to Seattle, and my first reaction was an uncontrollable flood of tears. I cried thinking about how I would never get to see “my girls” as often as I would like. When I moved to Austin in 2006, I began babysitting for them. At the time, the oldest was nearly two, and the mom was pregnant with the little sister. I babysat two to three times every week, ate dinner with them, watched TV shows, spent the night, went to baptisms, helped at every birthday party, had Thanksgiving with them and had them as flower girls in my wedding. We actually are almost family — we share the same cousins, but we aren’t cousins, although the girls and I like to say we are 🙂 I have lived five minutes away from them for nine years, and could see them anytime that I wanted. I felt like I “grew up” in their house — as an 18 year old moving to a big city and a huge school, they were exactly what I needed. So, needless to say, their decision to move to Seattle really upended me, and the tears — both by myself and in public — continued to flow freely. I was hit hard with the feeling that a huge part of my heart and my life were leaving “home”. And I am crying as I write this because it is still so hard for me to think about, especially when I drive by their house and the two girls aren’t outside jumping on the trampoline with huge smiles on their faces. Although I know I can go visit them in Seattle anytime, and I will see them at Christmas, it is just not the same.

Then, when iGnite founder Neissa announced to our team that her husband Russell accepted a job in San Diego, my head fell to the table, and I cried so intensely…I even think I was dry-heaving! Neissa and iGnite have been the best thing to happen to me since I graduated college! I was very persistent with her when I was interested in joining the iGnite team, and she gave me a chance, for which I am forever thankful. I love her so much as a friend and a mentor, and I love her kids to pieces. I spent so much quality time with them over the summer, which was so nice, but that did make it slightly harder when they left. We swam at my pool, splashed in the lake, had dinner together and laughed a ton. My husband Clayton and I have conversations in “Malaine voices”, and we often catch ourselves saying things that both she and Durant say. We have enjoyed getting to FaceTime several times already, which was such a treat!

Saying goodbye to both of these families was tough — I cried in front of “my girls”, but actually held it together in front of Neissa and her family (I waited until I got in my car — which was not easy). Clayton has been telling me for months, “Molly, they both have to do this for their families. There is nothing to be sad about.” I completely understood his point about this truth, but I needed and wanted validation that my feelings were real. I got the validation I needed from sweet girlfriends, like Cary Fyfe and Kathy Huffaker, for which I am so thankful.

As I move forward and release all of my emotions, through either talking about it or crying, I am slowly learning to embrace this change, remembering that change is a natural and necessary part of life, and that where we all “travel” next will be good. I also try to remind myself of a quote that Neissa hung in her kitchen shortly after she knew that a significant change was coming their way:

“Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they are meant to be”.

Most certainly, this is a growth opportunity for me, and even though it very painful, I know these changes are part of God’s plan. After all, I now have two really cool (literally and figuratively) places to visit, and I am certain that travel is EXACTLY how this change is nudging me to move forward — ha! However, and listen carefully to this, I hope that everyone that I love now knows that they simply must not move, EVER, because I am currently maxed out on change 🙂

Action Item:
If you struggle coping with change, remind yourself regularly of this truth:
“Change is not something that we should fear.
Rather, it is something we should welcome. For without change,
nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom,
and no one in this world would ever move forward
to become the person they are meant to be”.

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