When our team member Landrie relocated from New York to Austin last year, I couldn’t believe the coincidence when she moved into the same sixplex as our close friend and collaborator, photographer Kate LeSueur. Later, she casually mentioned that Natalie Marchbanks lives across the hall, and that Caitlin Ryan and Jessica Thompson are in a house a few doors down. Um… 5 of Austin’s coolest creative girls living on the same charming street? It’s the perfect excuse for a neighborhood block party if I ever heard one! And since their close proximity has forged friendships between these ladies, they happily obliged. On a sunshine-y day in early spring, the girls convened in the front yard for fried chicken, crisp slaw, and pitchers of fruity, boozy punch. Keep scrolling to see how the coolest street in Austin throws a block party…
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, the stars (and busy schedules) finally aligned for a potluck happy hour. We crashed the party to steal some fried chicken and find out how the unofficial “Ladies of Clarksville” club came to be.
So what do you all do?
Jessica Thompson: I’m a creative consultant and producer for fashion and lifestyle brands under my own company, INTL Velvet. I also make jewelry and sell Turkish rugs with Landrie under the brand YALLA.
Landrie Moore: Brand partnership and marketing consulting for my main gals at CamilleStyles.com and a few others in Austin. I also sell vintage Turkish rugs with Jessica to friends and interior designers, and occasionally tend the store at Spartan.
Kate LeSueur: I’m a photographer here in Austin.
Natalie Marchbanks Dolling: Boutique hotel and other property development. My main focus at the moment is converting the historic Commodore Perry Estate into a hotel, event space, farm-to-table restaurant, and more. I also share my passion for art and design on Block Print Social.
Caitlin Ryan: I am a brand content strategist for the University of Texas System. I also freelance, giving editorial direction to a variety of other lifestyle brands – both emerging and established. I seriously love working in and developing content.
What’s your favorite neighborhood hangout?
JT: I love Pease Park and usually walk there in the morning and at night. Caffé Medici is also a favorite. It always feels like a neighborhood reunion because I run into neighbors and friends every time I’m there.
LM: Jeffrey’s happy hour on a Monday, or Deep Eddy Cabaret any day.
KL: Deep Eddy Cabaret for sure – a bag of Cheetos and the coldest beer in town. Not much is better.
NMD: You can spot me every morning at Caffé Medici. My husband Andrew and I also love to sit and have a drink outside Josephine House on a nice evening.
CR: I start a lot of days at Caffe Medici and end an equal amount with a glass of wine at home. Beyond my four walls, you can’t beat a good and dingy dive like Deep Eddy Cabaret. Speaking of Deep Eddy, how could I not mention the pool as my source of life during the hot months.
Dinner party fashion staple for spring?
JT: I love a good caftan or long, flowing dress with babouche slides, wooden bangles, and a large necklace.
LM: I’m due for some new shoes.
KL: A duster! They are the best, especially when you only wear t-shirts. I recently replaced my old staple with the new linen one from Esby. It’s really great.
NMD: This white shirtdress by Rodebjer. It has buttons on all four sides so you can wrap it and tie it in so many ways. I’m still discovering ways to wear it.
CR: Vibrant lipstick! Coral, pink, red, orange. Bust out that color with confidence, I say. Life’s too short not to have a little fun in these small, simple ways.
Caitlin and Jessica walk over from a few doors down to join the party. Caitlin baked a fresh batch of her signature cornbread, and Jessica whipped up a colorful Asian slaw salad. Keep reading for the recipes!
What’s your go-to potluck food?
LM: Do drinks count? I usually grab a margarita kit from the Fresa’s drive-through and some tequila from Wiggy’s.
KL: Good crusty bread.
NMD: Some variation of mac and cheese. I make it “fancy” with brussel sprouts and bacon, or asparagus and caramelized onions.
CR: I have to admit, I usually look to my boyfriend for that. He’s a pretty genius cook. So, wine? Yeah, I can pick a really good wine.
Jessica’s Asian Slaw Salad Recipe
- 1 head finely chopped purple cabbage
- 3-4 quartered and sliced cucumber
- 3 grated carrots
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup almond slivers
- red chili flakes
- sesame oil
- coconut aminos
Toss together the cabbage, cucumber, carrots, parsley, and almonds. To make the dressing, mix together one part sesame oil with two parts coconut aminos. Add red chili flakes to taste. I also love adding sliced mangoes or avocados to this salad.
Which neighbors’ closet would you want to raid?
JT: I want to raid all of Landrie’s furniture and Kate’s trinkets!
LM: Jessica’s – she puts things together in the most effortless looking way.
KL: Jessica for sure. She always has sneaky treasures, like Acne and Maison Margiela and Celine treasures – or like really amazing shoes she thrifted in Paris.
NMD: Can I say all of them? If I absolutely must choose one, I’d say Jessica. She collects artful, avant-garde pieces and makes them look like the most natural thing in the world.
CR: They’ve honestly all worn something that I’ve coveted. Everyone is so interesting and creative. The clearest example of that, though, is obviously Jessica. She basically wears art, and it’s very effortless.
Landrie’s Rum Punch Recipe
Adapted from Food & Wine
- 9 oz. light rum
- 5 oz. pineapple juice
- 5 oz. simple syrup
- 4 oz. fresh lime juice
- 5 oz. chilled champagne
- 12 raspberries
- 12 lime wheels
Combine the rum, pineapple juice, simple syrup, and lime juice. Chill for at least one hour. Top with champagne, raspberries, and lime wheels.
Which neighbor is the loudest?
JT: I worry that I’m too loud. I live above Caitlin and am always clumsily dropping things.
LM: Probably me.
KL: We are definitely the loudest. We have a 9 month old. The little angel has a voracious appetite and she will let you know it!
NMD: I’m worried that it’s me, but I really do try to keep it down for the sake of our resident babe Eloise and her parents Kate and David downstairs.
CR: It’s probably a cross between Jessica’s cats and my dog Susan, who communicate through a variety of pitter-patters and four-legged sounds. We live directly on top of each other. It’s actually a very comforting sound.
Patsy Cline was a fan favorite for this group of girls.
What’s your current playlist and book list?
JT: I’m currently reading through all of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia books, and I’m listening to the new Radio Dept album and the new Black Marble album nonstop.
LM: Currently reading “Valley of the Dolls” and listening to the Insecure soundtrack on Spotify.
KL: I’m currently reading Jant Lansbury’s “Elevating Childcare,” and a book on growing lettuce for every season. Unfortunately nothing sexy! And I’ve really been loving some old school country lately, like Patsy Cline and Roger Miller.
NMD: I’m always reading two books at once – one fiction and one nonfiction. My fiction read of the moment is “Arcadia” by Lauren Groff and my nonfiction pick is “The Architecture of Happiness” by Alain de Botton. I’m listening to so much Neko Case – it’s starting to get weird.
CR: I’m just dipping into “Women Who Run With the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., and I very recently finished “Tracks” by Robyn Davidson. I want to own camels and go to Australia now. I encourage you to read it to see why.
Which neighbor hosts the best happy hours?
JT: Landrie always has the best happy hour snacks and bites.
LM: Natalie makes a mean margarita.
KL: Natalie and Landrie! They have a good porch – and margaritas.
NMD: Landrie and I share a love for margaritas, and happy hour at her place is always comfortable and fun. A true unwinding.
CR: The gals down the road sure seem to be able to whip up delicious cocktails and snacks at the drop of a hat. I offer my dedicated participation at all times.
Caitlin’s Cornbread Recipe
From Caitlin: You can consider it an “all day” cornbread, in the sense that it’s as equally good for breakfast as it is on the side of chili come dinnertime.
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons parmesan
- 3 cup cornbread mix
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 eggs beaten
- sesame seeds
Mix dry ingredients. Add milk, butter, eggs, and sour cream. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes in a 9×13″ pan. Sprinkle with sesame seeds when hot, and let cool.
Which neighbor can whip up the best dinner?
JT: Kate! She made my husband and I the best lamb burgers with eggplant and parsley that she grew in her garden.
LM: Kate – she’s a Louisiana girl after all. Caitlin is new to the block, but based on that cornbread, I’m betting she has more culinary tricks up her sleeve.
KL: Hard to say. It always smells so good around the complex come dinner time. I’d gladly eat any one of their dinners!
NMD: When the sun sets, my mouth starts to water in anticipation of the fragrances that will soon be coming from Kate’s kitchen. A sort of Pavlovian conditioning, I suppose.
CR: I’m newest to the neighborhood, so we haven’t had a formal dinner gathering all together just yet. We tend to stick to happy hours, enjoying the sun and spending time hanging outside.
The unofficial Ladies of Clarksville club.
From left to right: Landrie Moore, Natalie Marchbanks, Caitlin Ryan, Jessica Thompson, Kate LeSueur.