There is an atmosphere of celebration at Easter Seals of Central Texas, and with good reason. It's their 75th year of providing services to both children and adults with disabilities and their families.
An occasion like this deserves a big splash, and ESCT is making the most of the opportunity. Since Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World, the nonprofit will host its first benefit concert Friday, September 28 at the Shoal Crossing Event Center, 8511 North Mopac.
Doors for VIP ticketholders will open at 6:30 Pm, and the evening will commence with a VIP reception from 7 to 8, featuring music from Karl Morgan, a blues guitarist and singer/songwriter. Morgan hails from western Austrailia, but has played in and around Austin since 2008. He entertains his audiences with the soulful sounds of blues and soul tunes from the 60s and 70s. Attendees for this intimate performance will receive appetizers and drink tickets.
At 8 Pm, doors will open for the night's 8:30 headliner,
The Eggmen. Austin's most well-known Beatles tribute band has won numerous awards, wowing audiences with a unique blend of songs from the Beatles era, authentic instruments and costume changes.
Everyone is encouraged to come decked out in their favorite Beatles-style attire and dance the night away. Prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed.
If your taste buds are suffering from a serious case of the blahs, and they need to get their tingle back, consider taking them on a trip around the world. Don't worry; you won't have to spend a fortune on plane tickets, cruises, or hotels. The adventure is as close as Central Market and their regular cooking classes right here in Austin.
Central Market Cooking School combines its talented cooking instructors with local, regional and nationally known culinary experts and chefs to create an appetizing experience. Best of all, you get to eat while you learn.
Here are some highlights of upcoming classes that may help put some spice back in your kitchen.
· Tuesday, May 1, 6:30 to 9 Pm: Cinco de Mayo Celebration with Aunt Pearl Burras of "Greater Tuna"
If you're a fan of the Joe Sears-Jaiston Williams "Greater Tuna" plays, this is the chance of a lifetime to get up close and personal with the Grande Dame of Tuna, Texas, Aunt Pearl. She'll show you the secrets to creating such deliciosos dishes as Chicken Enchiladas, Carne Guisada, Mexican Refried Beans and Guacamole Salad with Homemade Tortilla Chips.
· Wednesday, May 2, 6:30 to 9:30 Pm: Sushi 101 with CM Cooking School Instructor Scot Loranc
Learn to make and enjoy Pickled Cucumber & Daikon Salad, Tuna Taco with Avocado & Yuzu Puree, Sakemake, California Roll, and other modern flavors. Sushi 101 is one of CM's most popular classes.
· Thursday, May 3, 6:30 to 9 Pm: Cool Indian with Vegetarian Chef and Food Blogger Chaya Rao
Enjoy a spicy yet cooling menu of authentic Indan flavors, including Coconut & Honey Mock-tails, Peanut Masala (toasted peanuts with chilled, raw vegetables), Paneer & Fruit Kebabs with Chilled Chutney.
· Saturday, May 5, 10 Am to 1 Pm: Easy As Pie with Sahar Arafar-Ray, Culinary Instructor
You can't miss out on dessert, and this demonstration gives you practice making tasty crusts and fillings: Crust Primer, Mixed Berry Lattice-topped Pie, Key Lime Pie, and more.
For more information, or to make reservations for these and other future classes, call Central Market Cooking School at (512) 206-1014, or visit the Cooking School page at: http://www.centralmarket.com
Since 2002, many of you have tuned in to Majic Love Songs with Delilah each evening from 7 to midnight to either listen to the many stories she puts on the air, or share one of your own. But who is Delilah? What's her life off the air really like? How did she become so adept at imparting sage advice and finding the perfect song to fit any situation?
If you've asked these and other questions, you'll probably find the answers in this revealing story about the queen of sappy love songs. Click here and enjoy.
You want to plan the perfect evening, and you decide dinner and a concert is just the ticket. You figure out what to wear, make preparations for a babysitter for the kids, and arrive at the venue. You are escorted into the venue... and the room is completely dark.
Was there a power outage? Is this a horror movie rather than a concert? No, it's neither of these. It's an experience you'll never forget, one that will open your heart and mind to other senses besides your eyes in a safe, fun and meaningful environment.
Welcome to the Blind Cafe, a blind awareness fundraising dinner and full concert held January 26, 27, and 28 at the Church of Christ, 1903 University Avenue in Austin. All of the waitstaff are sight-limited. The meal consists of delicious vegetarian dishes prepared by Austin chef Brian Henderson, along with a concert featuring musician Brian "Rosh" Rocheleau, founder of the Blind Cafe, and the band One Eye Glass Broken. Members of the audience can also take part in a Q&A discussion on issues related to blindness, all conducted in a completely darkened room.
Part of the proceeds from the three-day event will go toward the Bell Program, which helps young blind children learn valuable life skills. Richie Flores, head of the Bell Program and President of the Austin Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, will be the keynote speaker.
The Blind Cafe has had great success in several cities around the country besides Austin, including Boulder, Portland, and Cincinnati. It's a chance to make new friends, build community, advocate for the blind, and discover firsthand what it's like to live life without sight.
Austin resident Elizabeth Lehr, who attended a previous Blind Cafe event, was greatly affected by the experience. "My husband Aaron and I made a date night out of the Blind Cafe, and it actually made a pretty big impact on our marriage," she said. "I realized (again) how important it is to just enjoy the life I've been given, so since then, I've been cutting back on things that to me are superfluous, and focusing on what's really important."
Tickets for the Blind Cafe range from $45 to $95. If you'd like to volunteer, or find out more information, visit the event website at:
My son James is moving in with me, and preparing to start technical school in January. For the past couple of months, I’ve been keeping his dog, Gus, for him until he moves in.
Gus is quite a character. He’s part Rat Terrier, part Chihuahua, and weighs about 15 pounds, friendly to everyone. His favorite sleeping place is on top of my sofa, like a cat; in fact, James teases him all the time about it. This photo was taken of him by my girlfriend in just such a pose. Enjoy!
When Rohan Murphy was four years old, doctors were forced to amputate both his legs, due to a birth defect that caused them to be deformed. Afraid of not fitting in with other kids, Murphy wore prosthetics rather than use a wheelchair. As he grew older, however, he made up his mind not to let his disability define who he was. He put away the prosthetics and now uses a wheelchair.
"When I was a kid, I used to look at being disabled as a curse," Murphy told me in a phone interview from his home in Long Island, New York. "But as I got older, I got wiser and started to realize that being disabled could actually be a gift, that I could actually go out and use this gift to inspire other people."
The turning point in Murphy's thinking came when he joined his high school wrestling team, and had great success in the sport. He was able to carry that achievement with him to Penn State, where he excelled in wrestling at the collegiate level, and graduated with a degree in kinesiology. Though he no longer competes as a wrestler, he has participated in international power lifting competitions, and is currently training for the 2012 Paralympics. He has appeared in a Nike commercial, and travels the country as a motivational speaker to tell his story.
Murphy will share that story here in Austin this weekend, and will serve as Honorary Ambassador to the Easter Seals of Central Texas during their Walk With Me Austin Family 2K event on Sunday at the Domain. The walk is one of the nonprofit organization's biggest annual events, with funds going toward providing services for people with disabilities and their families, so they can fully participate in their comunities.
To be successful in life, Murphy says, everyone has to overcome some type of adversity. He hopes his presence and short speech after the Walk With Me event will send a positive message to people with and without a disability. "You should never give up," Murphy said. "You should always try to find a way to make something happen. You should always think about what you want out of life, what you want to accomplish... and what you're willing to do to make your dreams become reality."
If you'd like to register for the walk, or find out more information about Easter Seals of Central Texas, visit the Walk With Me Austin website at: www.walkwithme.org/austin.
With all the statistics about the divorce rate getting higher and higher, here's a change of pace: a couple who was married 72 years, and ended up passing away together. Read this incredible story by clicking here:
This past week has been one of deep reflection for me. No, I'm not going to espouse philosophy or anything; it's quite simple, really. The devastating wildfires here in the Austin area, along with the 10th anniversary of 9/11... both events have stirred a myriad of emotions in me, and, I'm sure, in many of you as well.
We probably know at least someone who was affected by the wildfires in some way. I know three people personally who had to evacuate, but thankfully they were able to return to their homes with little or no damage. But there were countless others who lost everything, including their homes, and my thoughts and prayers go out to them.
You always hope that there is no loss of life with these events, but unfortunately, two people died from the wildfires, and my heart goes out to their families as well.
Even if many of us weren't directly affected by the tragic events of September 11, 2001 in the sense of losing loved ones or friends, I don't think we can ever forget the sense of horror and outrage we felt when the terrorists struck. Our country was being violated, and it didn't matter whether you lived in New York or Austin, if you saw the images on television or heard about it on the radio, you felt as if you were right in the thick of it.
The dominant thought running through my mind as I ran through both events this week is the way people pull together in times of tragedy or great crisis. We worry and complain daily about our local, state, and federal government, about the economy, the unemployment rate, health care, etc. But when something or someone threatens our community, state, or country, all that goes out the window. When you hear about people opening their homes to total strangers because they had to evacuate, or give generously of their finances or material possessions, it shows more than just a sense of duty or responsibility. It demonstrates real compassion, a feeling of togetherness. It's one of the many reasons I'm proud to be an American.
Most of us are familiar with the Miss America pageant, which has been crowning winners from all over the country since 1921. There is another pageant you may not be as familiar with, but is no less important in its concept. The Miss Plus America pageant is dedicated to celebrating the inner beauty of women, along with their commitment to the communities in which they live, and the 2011 Miss Plus America Elite winner lives here in Austin.
Spruce Dickerson competed with women from all over the United States last month to capture the Miss Plus America Elite crown, which is the highest honor in the Miss Plus America pageant system.
I first met Spruce several months ago, when we were paired as co-emcees for the Statewide Independent Living Council Convention. Her positive, energetic personality and passion for advocating for the voice of plus-sized women is both refreshing and unmistakable.
"All women are worthy, and all women have a voice," she told me as we talked in my office recently. "It doesn't matter what our size is. All women are beautiful." Her mantra: "love who you are, where you are."
All contestants are required to choose a platform, and Spruce chose volunteerism, because, as she put it, "I already do that. It's not a hat that I put on and take off. My life is volunteerism."
Spruce is excited about her opportunity to represent the Miss Plus America Elite crown, which is not affiliated with the Miss America contest. She will have numerous opportunities throughout the year to promote her volunteerism platform, and her theme, "give... so that others can live." In December, she will travel to Nigeria to speak and emcee at the Miss Plus Nigeria pageant. While there, she will visit orphanages and schools, where she'll be passing out school supplies. She is also currently working on a campaign called Flip Flop To Nigeria, to collect flip flops to hand out to people during her visit.
For more information about Spruce, or to line her up for a guest appearance, email Melissa Stamper at:
You may also visit Spruce's website at:
Actress Betty White has been asked out on a date--by a Marine, no less!
The 89-year-old actrss was invited to a Marine ball through a YouTube video from Sgt. Ray Lewis. Check it out here: