TRAVEL TEXAS- Hamilton Pool

It has been over two years since I heard about (and have started dreaming about) Hamilton Pool.  Nestled into our beautiful Texas hill country, it seemed like such an incredible little oasis.  But I let that first summer slip by.  Disappointed but curious, I went ahead and just planned on a day of hiking and exploring around the area during the winter.  It lived up to the hype… and was just as beautiful as every picture I had seen.  But then, what did I do?  I let last summer fill up with other activities, I didn’t plan far enough ahead, and we missed our chance at getting one of those coveted reservations (that are now required during the busy summer season).

 

 

So I planned early this year.  I was on their website in June.  I paid the $11 for their reservation system and chose the 9:00 to 1:00 time block for this past Tuesday.

The morning of, I was up at 6:00.  I felt like I was making good time in getting myself ready, making the boys’ breakfast, and beginning to pack everything we’d need.  When the boys finally arose, they slowed me down.  And I swear time sped up.  We didn’t leave Boerne until 8:00, so we didn’t get to the park until about 9:30.  By the time everyone stopped at the restrooms, we blew up our tube, and made our way down the .25-mile trail, we had completely lost the first hour of our time there.  But…

 

 

After finding a great spot for our stuff (way over on the shaded side of the shore), we headed straight into the “pool.”  We spent the first several minutes adjusting to the cool water and watching the HUGE catfish that swam around our ankles.

Then Evan plopped himself into his tube.  We moved out of the little shallow area (straight into the 25-foot deep spots).  And then Ben and I proceeded to push him all around the pool, to and away from all the waterfalls, under the cold splashes of fresh river water, all around the rocks that surrounded the grotto.  We took pictures and video.  Swam until hearts were pumping.  We studied the plants and ferns growing all over the rocks and cavern walls and ceiling.  We had so much fun!

 

 

 

It ended up getting pretty packed with people.  But, I floated on my back a few times.  With ears under the water, the sounds changed from voices, yelling, and laughter… to sounds of water movement and the waterfalls crashing into the pool.  With eyes closed, I was able to catch my breath and relax.  And every time I opened my eyes again, my breath was taken away by the gorgeous ceilings of the grotto against the beautiful blue Texas sky!  It really was like being in another world!

(My mom texted me at some point to see what I thought of the place.  My reply was simply “magical.”  She asked, “Unicorns?  Fairies?  Rainbows?”  Well, of course not!  But I said, “yes.”)  😉

 

So, 12:00 came.  And lots of people started packing up and leaving.  12:30 came.  And the park attendant was there to help round up the rest of us…and send us on our ways.  So we gathered our things and made the uphill, uneven .25-mile trek back to the truck.  The awesome thing about it, we had gotten so cooled by the water temperature, walking in the heat of the day was no problem!  It was actually quite comfortable.

So all in all, we had an amazing time!  We never had to apply sunscreen, because we were shaded by the grotto overhang almost the entire time.  No one slipped on a wet rock or got hurt.  No one was embarrassed to be seen with me.  The one float that we carried in was perfect for us.  No one missed the lunch that I didn’t have time to pack.  (But there really was no time to eat.  And stopping at The Pizza Cave on our way home made the boys perfectly happy.)  And if asked, the boys will tell you that the place is gorgeous and that they had a great time!  That’s worth all the world!

 

 

Now, my recommendations?  I loved the morning times.  But you sun-bathers might really enjoy the 2:00 to 6:00 time frame.  Bring a camera!  If you’ve got a waterproof one, do not forget it!  If you want to bring several floats, get yourself a battery-operated pump.  That way, you can air everything up when you get to the spot.  Water sandals helped on the rocks and the first few feet in.  But you’re pretty much treading water the rest of the time, and really don’t need anything.  Having goggles along was great.  There seemed to be plenty of life jackets for people to use, so don’t worry about that.  And my only warning?  The restrooms are up by the parking lot!  Once you’re down to the pool, you hold it!  😉  (Please don’t tell me that people pee in the water.  I’ll be blissfully happy if I pretend it doesn’t happen.)

So go!  Make your reservation.  Take it all in.  And ENJOY… every time you TRAVEL TEXAS!!!

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)


An Interview with Leigh Country

I am suddenly being asked quite often if I would accept guest blog posts, would like to do collaborations, or would like to donate items to a cause or a drawing.  With all of them, I let them know how I’ve been doing things so far, what’s been working well for us, and opening it up to new ideas and ways to do things.

I have to tell you, I was approached earlier this week with an e-mail about a coffee-centered guest blog post, which opened up with “Who doesn’t love coffee?”  I honestly wrote her back with an, “I don’t!”  😉  And I challenged her to find a way to write about coffee specifically for my readers, ways that we would use coffee to benefit our health or our skin, or ways to bake with it.  Totally waiting to see if I hear back from her!

But I digress.  The real point of this post is about my new collaboration with a great business.  One that I have obviously seen around for years.  Just never had a glimpse into their name, their company, their business practices, and their employees.  Until now.

When I was approached by Randi of Leigh Country a few weeks ago, I was totally on board with their business and some type of partnership.  We discussed several options.  We decided on a type of Q&A blog post.  And before I say any more, here is my interview…..

 

 

Who are YOU?  And what is your part in the company?

My name is Randi, and I’m the Marketing and Branding Associate for Leigh Country. I oversee all marketing efforts Leigh Country conducts, including our new company blog Authentic Country Living.

What is your typical day like (sun-up to sundown)?

My first alarm – yes, I’m one of those people that needs multiple alarms – goes off at 7. I spend the next 30 min or so struggling to wake up. Then I grab a much needed cup of coffee before hopping in the shower. I head off to work around 8:45, because I’m #blessed with a 10-minute commute. Work starts at 9, and I begin checking my emails and our Facebook page’s inbox for any customer communications.

I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours just communicating with people, either the Leigh Country email here in the office, or Leigh Country family out there in the world. It just depends on the day. The rest of the morning I usually spend either researching for a blog post or writing on one. It’s our newest project so I’m trying to get it the time it deserves.

Lunch is whenever I’m hungry. I’m lucky to have a flexible schedule, so my stomach dictates lunchtime. Sometimes it’s 11, other days it’s 2. It can also depend on how focused I am on a piece. Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before, but I’m also notorious for forgetting to bring them with me! My go-to places to order lunch are local Chinese restaurants. We’re located near the Chinatown district of Houston so there’s too many good places to pick just one!.

After lunch I tackle other projects I’m working on. It could be an event we’re sponsoring (stay tended to the blog for more info on that), writing product descriptions, or working with our Art Director, Aaron, on specific projects. The project du jour keeps me busy until the work day ends at 5:30.

I’m usually home by 6, either from traffic or running an errand or two. I take some down-time to myself to read, write, or, in all honesty, take a nap, before my fiance gets home around 7:30. He’s the chef in the family so he usually cooks dinner, and we eat while watching wrestling. He’s a big wrestling fan and got me interested in it when we started dating. Our evening tends to end with wrestling, cleaning the kitchen, then crashing by 11.

 

I know that Leigh Country has quite a legacy.  Could you tell us a little bit about the history of the business?

Leigh Country started in 2004 as an off-shoot of our parent company United General Supply Co., Inc. (or UGS for short). UGS began in 1984 with our CEO and his wife following the American Dream! They went from peddling hand tools at flea markets to having a thriving hardware store. Adding outdoor and patio furniture seemed like a natural expansion. But Leigh Country isn’t your average outdoor pieces: we make solid-wood, all-natural furniture. Each of our pieces is made from actual trees, no MDF, that we sustainably farm. We don’t use forests; we grow our own pine and fir trees.

 

What are your products?  Which is a best seller?  What is your favorite?

Our log-style rocking chairs are our signature products, and our best sellers. Our wood furniture also comes in double rockers, which seat two adults, swings, bar-height tables and chairs, and more. Part of what makes our wood furniture so unique are our finishes: Char-log, Aspen, and Amber-log. Char-log pieces are made up of just that: charred logs. Each log has been charred by hand for a unique, darkened finish. Aspen pieces are natural wood, sealed only with clear lacquer, which highlights the natural wood grain. Amber-log is our newest finish. The pieces are oiled or stained to a warm, golden-honey finish.

We also sell standing coolers, metal wall decor such as traditional barn stars, and garden benches. We are also proud to offer some officially licensed products with Coca-Cola, and some select NCAA colleges. I’m particularly partial to our Coca-Cola coolers, and our UT Longhorns rocker.

 

Is there a new product in the works?

We’re always designing new items to meet customer demand. I can’t say too much, but we may have a new style of our log furniture coming soon. You’ll have to stay tuned to our blog to find out more!

What are some of the company’s biggest accomplishments or proudest moments?

Getting to work with H-E-B and create exclusive products for them has really been wonderful. If you’ve seen the movie Heaven is For Real, our H-E-B exclusive furniture is poolside at the family home.

We’ve also partnered with the Sugar Land Skeeter’s for the past few summers. Our furniture is featured on their Distinctive Life Diamond Deck. You can watch all seven innings from our rockers!

We have another big partnership in the works. It’ll be announced on our blog in the next coming weeks.

 

My kids and I love watching America’s Got Talent during the summer.  Does anyone in the company have a secret passion that could stand up to a talent show stage?

Our Dropship Manager, Porsche, has a wealth of pop culture. She can beat anyone at the Six Degrees of Separation game. You name a pop star and a tv actor, and she’ll have them connected in no time, no Google needed! I’m not sure if that’s America’s Got Talent-worthy, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

If you were stranded on an island with only five things, what you want those five items to be?

Well if I were stranded, and truly wanting to survive, I know exactly what six things I would need: my glasses, sunscreen, a water filter or a pot, flint or matches, and a knife. But those answers are no fun! My “wants” would be a coffee maker, coffee (otherwise I’d be the first one voted off), face mists (they really do keep you cooled off and refreshed!), lip balm, and a copy of Alice in Wonderland (one of my favorite books!).

 

If you could meet anyone (past or present), who would that be… and why?

I never know how to answer this question! This may sound strange, I’d be interested in meeting my parents when they were teenagers and young adults. I’d like to see how they came to be who they are today.

What are your favorite things about this great state of Texas?

Southern hospitality! It’s real y’all. People truly are nice and kind. Strangers stop to help strangers out. People care. It gives you hope.

Oh, and the food. BBQ, grits, my dad’s ribs and my mom’s fried chicken, pecan pie, anything TEXMEX!

 

Where is your favorite vacation spot in Texas?

I love going to Austin. Especially if I’m wanting to stay in the city, but keep it weird. Plus, you can visit some beautiful aspects of nature without leaving the city.

What are some of your favorite fellow businesses in Houston?

Well I’ve mentioned I love coffee so I gotta throw a couple of shout-outs to some of my favorite coffee spots: Boomtown and Slowpokes.  I’ve also mentioned Tex-Mex and wrestling, so I have to mention the wrestler-owned Tex-Mex restaurant chain Cyclone Anaya’s. For dessert, you can go fancy with Macaron by Patisse, or Houston classic at any one of the many Arandas BakerySpace Montrose is a really cool local boutique that sells pieces by local artists in Houston. They also hold events with artist in-house making custom pieces. It’s a really great space. No pun intended. I also HAVE to give a shout-out to Plant It Forward. It’s a business-cum-movement. They help refugees by giving them jobs and skills, planting urban gardens all throughout the city of Houston. They were featured on the Houston episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. If you can catch that episode I highly recommend it; it only made me love Houston more.

 

We’re a handmade small business in a small town.  I’m a single mom.  We’re a 4-H family that raises chickens.  We love photography, our pets, good food, traveling Texas.  I’m trying my hand at blogging.  I’m crazy about essential oils, HEB, buying local, shopping small, social media, being kind, savoring life, sharing recipes, and dinner parties.
What fun or quirky things like these could be said about you?  What about us made you reach out for a partnership with us?

We reached out because we’re quirky and relatable too! Definitely get a kindred spirit from your blog! Leigh Country is a small business in a big city that has a small town feel. We’re family owned and operated. We love and respect family and it flows into our business practices. We also have literal family members working in different departments. We have husbands and wives, sisters, cousins, all from different families, but all part of the Leigh Country family.

We all have different backgrounds, but there are some things we all have in common: We’re all foodies and appreciate a good meal. We all enjoy family time. Company outings always include family members. We might live in the city but we’re all a little bit country in our hearts.

Some activities are enjoyed by a handful of employees: There’s a few of us here at Leigh Country that enjoy pro-wrestling, myself included. We also have some serious self-proclaimed nerds. A couple of our employees have either worked, or currently work for local comic conventions. We also have some weekend soccer players. Some fantasy football players. We have a former touring rock star. We have crafters, bloggers, DIY-ers, and video gamers. There’s fewer than 50 of us working here, but we have all kinds! Just like a real family.

 

Do you have a favorite family recipe that you could share with our readers?

One of my favorite recipes growing up came from a cookbook my mother’s bowling league compiled to raise money for a bowling trip. It’s definitely not family original, but I associate it with my mom. It’s a simple, strawberry cake, and my birthday cake for many birthdays growing up.

Ingredients

CAKE
One box strawberry Jello
One box white cake mix
1 c. frozen strawberries, thawed
1/2 c. oil
4 eggs, whole

ICING
One 16-oz box/bag powdered sugar
1 c. frozen strawberries, thawed and pureed
1 stick butter, softened

Instructions

Combine cake mix, jello, strawberries and oil in mixer. Once thoroughly combined, add eggs one at a time, beating well. Pour batter into greased 9X13 pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

For the icing, add all ingredients to mixer and mix until creamy. Pour over cake. This icing is more of a glaze than traditional icing. Pour over a hot for a thinner glaze, or wait until the cake has cooler for a thicker, more icing-like glaze.

Garnish with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

 

And, of course… Where can our readers find your rockers, coolers, swings, and more?

Our products can be found online, in no particular order, at Wal-Mart, Houzz, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, and Wayfair. If you prefer to shop in store, you find a local store near you with our Store Locator on our website. Different stores carry different items at their own choice, so please call ahead when looking for a specific item.

 

So, by now you’ve got to be wondering how you can follow this wonderful company or purchase their great products.  I’ve gotcha covered!

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Store Locator

 

And whether you choose a chair, a rocker, decor, or a cooler… I’m hoping it brings some warm, rustic charm to your home, for generations to come!!!

 

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)


TRAVEL TEXAS- Happy Camper

Evan has asked me on a couple of occasions, “Mom, You like old things, don’t you?”  Yep.  I love old furniture and homes.  I love adding vintage touches around our house and yard.  I kinda love old people.  I’ve always wanted to own a vintage Ford Mustang.  And I dream of antique campers.  When we were worrying about finding a new location for From Scratch Farm, I actually began looking for an old camper that I could bring back to life.  I was already in love with the fact that we could glamp… I would have a mobile shop… and I could have air conditioned “booth space” at handmade fairs and markets.

Yay for us, that we found the wonderful space that we’re now in!!!  But that left me still dreaming of campers.  😉

One glamping instagram account that I’ve loved following is the Happy Camper.  They’re very close to us (Wimberley).  I was able to watch some behind-the-scenes pictures of their project.  And I got to see a little bit of their airb&b dream come true.  I was so excited to know that we were going to get to stay there for a couple of nights!

We started our vacation on Sunday.  Packed up our clothes, swim bag, food, and water… and set out, further into the hill country.

Our one pit stop was for lunch.  And thanks to google maps and reviews, we ended up at Jobell Cafe & Bistro.  I LOVED their signature salad (mixed greens, granny smith apples, feta, shallots, caramelized walnuts, and apple cider vinaigrette).  And the boys both gobbled down their chicken & waffles (with sides of bacon).  Seriously amazing food, atmosphere, and wait staff!

 

And then we headed to our destination!

 

The Happy Camper is a remodeled 1976 Airstream Land Yacht.  She is furnished with everything you need for the perfect weekend getaway, tucked away on six private acres in Wimberley, but very close everything!

The space (as listed on airb&b):
Tempurpedic queen bed
twin day bed
small fridge
oven
stove
sink
silverware, cookware, dishes, and bbq tools
s’mores supplies
coffee maker and supplies
a few games
shower
toilet
bbq pit
campfire
picnic table
chairs
patio umbrella
and air conditioning (yay!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The space (as described by me):
The Airstream herself is beautiful.  It’s clean and shiny.  There are lots of touches of my favorite turquoise and green.  And there are pops of red and gold throughout.  If the Tempurpedic mattress hadn’t been so darn comfortable, the adorable turquoise fridge would have been my favorite thing!  😉  We had everything we needed to cook both breakfasts and both dinners.  The boys LOVED having graham crackers, marshmallows, and a Hershey bar waiting for us!  Ben loved asking me questions from the dinner conversations game.  We played checkers.  The bathroom had everything that we needed for the few days.  The air conditioning was very comfortable.  There was an extra fan, if we needed it.  There were a couple of stools at the bar, but we ate all of our meals outside at the picnic table.  We sat around and enjoyed the land quite a bit, thanks to our hosts ordering up the perfect weather for us!  (Really, hosts Jonathan and Brittany have done a beautiful job of creating a cute and comfortable getaway for everyone looking to travel to the Texas hill country!)  The nights got magical, as the party lights came on to light the site.  We all slept well.  We were all happy campers!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, in the time that we weren’t at the camper:
We spent a day at Blue Hole.  Literally hours laying around in our floats, enjoying the beautiful spot.  (clear water, pretty grounds, beautiful cypress trees)  And Ben took his turn on the rope swing a few times.  We ate a picnic there.  We really only left because Evan’s lips had turned blue (it is THAT cold!!!).

 

 


Thanks to google maps and reviews again, we headed to San Marcos for Rhea’s Ice Cream Shop.  With flavors like caramel sea salt, avocado coconut, goat cheese & raspberry jam, chocolate milkshake, circus animal cookie, banana pudding, and cookies & cream, how could we resist?!  (Although, we’re not very good at resisting ice cream)  😉  After sampling several of the flavors, Ben ended up getting a few scoops of s’mores; Evan got a couple scoops of brown sugar cinnamon; I got Big Red.  YUM!!!!!!

 

The next day, I also tried to talk them into Wimberley Zipline Adventures or Schlitterbahn.  But the bums were in such relaxed vacation mode, they turned me down.  What?!  (Next time I need to vacation with someone else’s kids)

But despite my last day blues, it was a wonderful trip!  I would love for you to put it on your to-do list.  As always, tell them I sent ya… and have fun when you TRAVEL TEXAS!

 

Want to learn more, visit with the owners, or book your next vacation?

Facebook

Instagram

Airb&b

Glamping Hub

VRBO

 

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)


GUEST POST! By Summer Poole

I am so excited to go live with our next guest blog post!   By a fellow mom and businesswoman… and a friend!

I can’t recall exactly when we first met.  But I do remember the first time we worked together.  Knowing that I had a booth at the Outdoor Family Fair, and not having a space herself, she contacted me to see if she could join my spot and hand out flyers.  Why not?!  I quickly knew our personalities clicked… and she’s been stuck with me since.  😉

I’ve loved following along on her journey.  And I love cheering on her business.  Here is The Shabby Bus’ story….

 

 

“The Shabby Bus was a never part of our plan!!

We moved our family to Boerne during the summer of 2013 with a dream of raising our girls in a smaller town, and opening The Shabby Palette, an art studio with an after-school care program.  I had been a teacher for 9 years at NISD in San Antonio, and had dreamed of running a business working with children in a creative atmosphere.  An important part of the plan was to buy a small bus to use for transporting kids from local schools to the after-school art program.  We bought a 15-passenger shuttle bus from the Dallas Cowboy stadium in Arlington and drove it back home. While we didn’t know it at the time, this decision would change our lives.

Here’s the original Shabby Bus before any renovations. She was used previously as a parking lot shuttle bus at the Dallas Cowboys stadium, so she had very little mileage, but a ton of fun memories and happy energy.

 

The business plan of the art studio was put on hold while we settled into our new life in Boerne.  Our girls started school, and we got to know our community and neighbors.  The bus sat in the driveway and waited.

One day, close to Christmas break, I had a tough conversation with Brian.  I remember being stressed out over the fact that I needed to get to work at something…anything.  I had never not worked, and we really could have used the extra money for the holidays.  We considered lots of things, but it was a hard time of year to get work in any school and I really wanted something unique and creative to keep me busy.  At one point in the conversation I said, “What can I do?  All I have is this crazy bus!” To which Brian calmly replied, “Well, let’s use the bus.”

With Brian’s amazing master carpenter skills, and my thrifty creativity, we got to work on The Shabby Bus.  When I wasn’t painting or decorating the bus, I was researching the hill country hot spots and building a new business plan and website.  Before too long, we had a unique private tour bus that could make us the little bit of extra money our family needed.

Outside of Shabby Bus, after some love.

 

Inside of Shabby Bus, after some love.

 

We had no idea what we were doing in the beginning, but we learned quickly.  We got a special permit from the city, and started marketing on social media.  We contacted Boerne’s Parks and Recreation Department and put our shabby bus in the Boerne Weihnacht’s parade.  We booked our first few tours, learned what people really wanted to use a bus for, and created some fun tour ideas.  To date, our greatest advertisement has been word of mouth.  Our customers have had wonderful experiences and have told their friends and family.  We’ve had several repeat customers throughout the years. For this we feel extremely grateful and blessed.

Shabby Bus, after getting herself a new outfit.  A sweet group of couples visiting Becker Vineyards.

 

After about a year, we started getting so busy that we needed to add to our little business.  About that same time, Boerne ISD started to auction off some of their older buses, and a friend suggested we check it out.  I fought tooth and nail in the online auction for a specific bus that we thought would be perfect.  It was a small bus with very low miles, a fantastic AC system, and great maintenance records from the school district.  After several hours, we won Shabby # 2.  Once again, Brian and I got to work.

Brian tore out all the seats, and built all new custom benches inside.  She got trimmed out with wood shelves, a new sound system, and some fun paint and decorations.  We had a great mobile mechanic (thanks Tye Thornton) fix the few things she needed mechanically, and we started booking this bus almost immediately.

Brian enjoys some fun times while cleaning out bus #2.

 

A group of friends make a stop at Luckenbach on the new Shabby Bus.

 

Since the fall of 2013, we’ve hosted hundreds of wine tours, beer tours, weddings, birthday parties, proms, concert shuttles, bachelorette parties, Christmas light tours, reunions, and just fun nights out for friends and families.  We have groups contact us for unique and original ideas all the time, and we’ve been used as a fun “SURPRISE” party several times.  This has been such a fun adventure, and one we never had even planned.  God is so good, y’all!

So many ladies use us to celebrate birthdays, engagements, bridal showers, reunions, or just a fun girls’ day out.

 

We’ve booked our buses for BISD proms every year since we’ve been in business. It’s a fun and unique alternative to a stretch limo.

 

Groups of friends use us to see different parts of the hill country without worrying about taking 3 or 4 cars. They get to enjoy their cold beverages, great music, and conversation all while arriving at every location safely. Enjoy the journey and the destination!

 

Brides and grooms book our buses to shuttle their wedding guests safely to their venues. We offer fun, unique, and safe transportation for family and friends on their special day.

 

We recently bought our third bus.  It is our first full sized bus, and we are building it to hold 30 people.  It will be perfect for weddings and private events that need to have larger groups of people shuttled at a time.  Our plan is to keep the design a little more classic and simple (think elegant farmhouse).  We’ll have a wet bar in the back and a much more “loungy” feel.  We estimate that it will be finished by the end of the summer and ready to book for fall 2017.

We are having a blast working on our biggest Shabby Bus yet!

 

Crown Carpenter bus with a classic flat nose and tons of style.

 

Please keep an eye on us.  We’re always working on something new, and we’re always growing (in some way).

You can follow us @ www.shabbybus.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/shabbybus

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shabbybus/

With much peace and love. Always stay shabby. ❤, Summer Poole

Thanks to Amy from Shutter-Happy Photography and From Scratch Farm for hosting this blog.  I really enjoyed the journey it took me on 😊”

 

 

GUEST POST BY SUMMER POOLE  (Who adds on her website, “Don’t worry about who’s going to drive.  Don’t worry about parking.  Don’t worry about taking two or three cars.  Don’t worry about safety.  Just worry about booking your day before someone else does!”  So get to it!)

My picture of Summer (and her daughters) modeling our From Scratch Farm logo baseball tee 🙂  ——————->

 

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)


Our Magical History Tour!

I’ll start with the fact that the trip still had me programmed to get up super early yesterday.  But I quickly went back to bed for a two-hour nap.  And today I slept until 9:00, laid in bed watching TV until 1:00.  Hoping I’m now recovered…

But the story begins over a year ago, when Ben brought home information for this WorldStrides trip.  Of course, I was surprised by the cost.  But when we went through the list of stops that the trip would be making, it was a no-brainer that Ben needed to go on this trip.  When asked if he wanted to go on his own, with his dad, or with me, I was surprised with his answer.  So we spent quite some effort making extra money for both of us to go.

MONDAY:

The actual five-day whirlwind began at 2:30 on Monday morning, when all of us met at the middle school, loaded our luggage onto our buses, and headed to the airport.  (Thanks to two wonderful kids that sat with me and the funny Southwest Airlines flight attendants, my first plane ride in over 15 years was a great one.)

 

We arrived in Baltimore, took a bus to DC, and then met up with our tour guide (Darren) for the day.

We first got to see the White House.

 

 

We grabbed lunch at a food court.

Toured Ford’s Theater.

 

And then had a wonderful guided tour of the US Capitol.  (This was my favorite part of that day.  The capitol was beautiful.  The tour guide knew his stuff and obviously loved his job.  And we learned some really cool tidbits about the building, painting, statues, etc.)

 

 

 

 

We snagged a photo of the Washington Monument and toured the Jefferson Memorial.

 

 

 

 

We walked the grounds of the FDR Memorial.

 

And spent some time at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial.  (By this time I’m pretty overwhelmed by the greatness of the city, sites, and quotations… and I’m in tears.)

 

 

We grabbed dinner at a little cafe and then headed to the hotel for the night.

TUESDAY:

After an early breakfast at the hotel, we were on the bus again, with the first stop being the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial.

 

 

We walked over and toured the Lincoln Memorial.  (No one’s photos can do this justice.  It is grand and so beautiful.  My eyes leaked again…)

 

 

 

And then we caught a few minutes of the D-Day ceremony as we walked around the World War II Memorial.

 

 

After a quick lunch, we got to spend a while in the Holocaust Museum (probably the most beautiful and heart-breaking building  and exhibit I’ve ever been in).

 

 

We spent the whole afternoon walking around Arlington Cemetery, touring Robert E Lee’s home, and watching the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 

 

We stopped at the Pentagon Memorial, and happened to catch a past employee who was happy to visit with us and tell us his stories of being in the building the day of the tragedy.  (He spoke of the fact that he was in the building, but no one from their department even knew the plan had hit.  He talked of the feelings, of friends lost.  He said he could see the building burn for the five days from his home.  He talked of the 8+ feet of water in the basement that scuba divers explored before they had to pump the whole building.  He told us the whole story of the rebuilding process.  And he let us in on the fairly unknown fact that the Pentagon’s groundbreaking ceremony took place on September 11, 1941!)

After dinner at an Italian restaurant and a night’s sleep at our hotel, it was time for the second part of our trip.

WEDNESDAY:

We woke up early again, had breakfast, and made the bus ride to New York.  (Totally different activity, noise, and stress level… this city took me a while to get used to!)  😉

Our first stop was lunch in Grand Central Station.

 

We stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Trump Tower.  And our new tour guide (Robert) let us all roam around 5th Avenue and the Rockefeller Center areas.

 

 

 

 

 

Ben and I celebrated National Chocolate Ice Cream Day… and then I got him to the Lego store.

 

 

After our first (and very stressful) subway ride, we boarded our boat for a beautiful and fun dinner cruise around the bay, under the Brooklyn Bridge, and past the Statue of Liberty.  (Lady Liberty took my breath away.  And I cried again.  Funny how emotions overflowed for me on this trip)

 

 

 

 

 

THURSDAY:

A good night’s sleep and breakfast at a local diner, we took off on our longest day of the trip.

We took a boat ride out to Ellis Island for a tour.

 

We got to have lunch at a local park.

 

We toured the September 11th Museum.

 

We got all dressed up for dinner at Dave & Buster’s and seeing The Lion King on Broadway!  (This was grand!  The props and costumes were amazing!  And Ben’s favorite part of the trip!)

 

And then everyone was let loose on Times Square for a couple of hours!!!

 

 

FRIDAY:

Our tour guide took us to breakfast (where a few of us moms quickly gobbled down some food and then snuck off to the Hershey’s and M&M stores).

 

Then we were off to visit Central Park and the September 11th Memorial.  (I came across one person’s name with a white rose, indicating it was her birthday that day.)

 

 

Then we headed to the top of the World Trade Center.  (102 stories up, the view of the area was incredible!!!)

 

 

 

Last, we walked through the Wall Street area and visited Fearless Girl before hopping on our bus to the airport, to head back home to San Antonio.

 

We were back to the middle school by 11:00 that night and back in our own beds quickly after.

Ben’s favorite part of the trip?  The Lion King!  My favorite parts?  Our wonderful DC tour guide (who obviously loved his job and was great with our kids), seeing Lady Liberty, and the view from World Trade Center’s observatory!  Also loved the Broadway show, the fact that everything was already planned for us and paid for, that we were totally prepared for the 6-10 miles of walking that we did each day, that I made some great mom friends while there, and that I had a fantastic roommate the whole time.

We learned SO much!  And wonderful memories were made!

If anyone has a chance to send their child on this trip, I would definitely recommend it!  And if you have the chance to go with your kiddo, go!

PS- A BIG thank you to the friends and family that helped us raise money for the trip… and to the teachers/coaches along for the ride (especially Mama Hen Mrs. Rust), who kept our kids happy and safe and were so welcoming to us parents!!!

2 Responses to “Our Magical History Tour!”

  1. Amy

    The cost is shocking. Especially when I looked at both Ben and I going. But you saw how much I fundraised and how much I sold off. It’s doable!
    And I was never a history buff. Thanks to my teachers in school, I really wasn’t interested at all. But learning history through Ben’s eyes, and through this trip, it was amazing!
    I am SO glad we both went!!! So let Alana talk you into it. 😉

  2. Summer

    Awesome, Amy!! Alana really wants to go on this trip next June, but the cost is hard for me to swallow. She’s also not a huge history buff. I do think that a trip like this may open her eyes and make her one though. Great info 🙂

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)


There’s An Oil For That!!!

Is there really, you may ask?  I think so!  At least, for our day-to-day needs!

 

I’ll start with how I discovered essential oils.  It was during my “googling” several years ago, to learn more about raising chickens, collecting rainwater, and making homemade body products.  Along with many articles I found, I was also finding posts about the benefits of essential oils.  After lots of research, I quickly made the decision to try out the best (doTERRA)… and try out some of their most useful (to me) varieties.

We use them in our products, in diffusers, topically, internally.  Seriously, all the uses!

 

The oils I LOVE, but currently only use them in our products:

Rosemary

Melaleuca (Tea Tree)

Eucalyptus

 

Can’t live without single oils:

Lavender- a sweet, refreshing scent; calming and relaxing effects

 

Peppermint- a minty, refreshing scent; cooling, awakening; freshens breath, eases breathing, can settle an upset stomach

(I add peppermint to our lavender healing salve, to cool and relieve sunburn)

 

Lemon- zesty, citrus scent; cleansing and uplifting effects

 

(Combining the lavender, peppermint, and lemon makes for fantastic allergy relief)

 

Grapefruit- fresh, sweet scent; cleansing and invigorating

 

My favorite oil blends:

Deep Blue- earthy, minty scent; soothing and cooling

On Guard- spicy, citrus scent; supports healthy immune function

 

InTune- spicy, refreshing scent; enhances the senses and sustains focus

 

DigestZen- gingery, minty scent; aids in food digestion and soothes upset stomach

 

PastTense- minty scent; can calm tension and stress, can ease headaches

Purify- earthy, citrus scent; refreshes, replaces unpleasant odors, clears the air

 

TerraShield- strong woodsy scent; an effective, natural barrier against nature’s pests

 

 

But, of course, there are SO many more!  And I hear, there are several that people are crazy about that I don’t even own yet!

If you would like to know more about the doTERRA company or about essential oils, you can get lots of help on their site and social media platforms.

Website

Instagram

Facebook

If you’d like some local Boerne help, answers, or support, I am available any time during my shop hours- Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and some Saturdays noon to 6:00.

And if you’d like to join us for our very first essential oils class, we would love to have you!

Facebook Invite

 

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)


Camp Well

So, there was an inspirational and uplifting four-day camp in Fredericksburg last month.  And our body scrubs and healing salves attended!  😉

 

 

Camp Well is described as:

“Camp Well will be four days of the perfect balance of workshops, breakout sessions, one on one mentor sessions, an outdoor experiences that will be the catalyst for:

  • Reflecting on our gifts & identity and shedding fear and distractions
  • Refocusing our values and priorities
  • Resetting our goals with strategy
  • Resting from the busy and overwhelm
  • Rejoicing in the Lord’s authorship of it all, lots of laughs, late night chats and wine of course

for

the woman who needs a break from the busy to rest and refocus on the big dreams she has in life, ministry and/or business. It’s the perfect experience for:

  • The overwhelmed dreamer who doesn’t know where to start
  • The weary doer who needs rest and balance
  • The inspired servant who wants to start a non-profit
  • The high functioning leader who needs to be reminded of their “why”
  • The lonely mom who has lost her identity
  • The passionate single ready to dream big
  • The ambitious professional balancing career and dreams
  • The busy business owner who needs to reset her strategies and find answers to questions”

 

 

I watched as they posted pictures on instagram of their swag bags (which included our products), the beautifully-set tables for meals, their margarita bar, their outing to Enchanted Rock, and pictures of their wonderful speakers.  I followed along as the ladies ate, hiked, socialized, dreamed, prayed, supported one another, and enjoyed their stay at Fredericksburg’s Hoffman Haus.  It was obviously the perfect place for dreamers, doers, and entrepreneurs!

 

 

It definitely seemed like the place to be for making connections, finding inspiration, for dreaming and doing, for relaxation and unplugging.

 

 

Thankful to the ladies that let me be a part of this.  And hoping everyone loved the swag bags… especially our products.

 

 

 

Want to know more about Camp Well?

Website

Facebook

Instagram

 

 

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)


TRAVEL TEXAS- Son’s Island

I had fallen in love with the place just through photos on instagram.  So I couldn’t wait to go.  Made reservations for Mother’s Day, invited my parents, and planned the weekend.

 

The island is a 3.5 acre island in the middle of Lake Placid in Seguin.  An easy-access spot right off of I-10, you get to the island by driving over a one-lane wooden bridge, check into your reservation, unload your items at your spot, and park in the lot.

 

Starting with the small details, your private cabana is a little piece of paradise.  Each one has a great bar and bar stools, lots of seating, a table, a ceiling fan, electrical outlets, a hose and nozzle, a bar-b-q pit, and a picnic table.  The cabanas that are built on decks have two hammock swings.  The cabanas on the land have one hammock… and then they have their own little deck over the water.

 

The big details make the place even cuter.  There’s comfy grass everywhere, surrounded by beautiful tropical plants and large cypress and pecan trees.  The water is clean and cool.  There is a floating trampoline, a large slide, and rope swings.  There is a sand volleyball court.  They have kayak and paddleboard rentals.  There are even tents and two Airstreams that you can rent if you want to stay overnight

 

 

Our experience was awesome.  The boys and I arrived and got settled in just before my parents got there.  In no time, they were riding bikes while we adults bar-b-q’d.  After a delicious lunch of bacon-wrapped shrimp, fish tacos, veggies, watermelon, and apple pie, we spent the afternoon kayaking around the island over and over again (we even pulled Ben behind the kayak in our donut inner tube a couple of times).  😉  The kids had a blast with their water guns and bike riding.  We all enjoyed the gorgeous weather and the great company.  Is was an amazing Mother’s Day!!!!!!

 

 

I left happy, I got “thank yous” on the way home, and we got some fun pictures and memories!  So we’re giving it a big thumbs up… and a “we want to go back!” rating.  Loved this trip!

 

Some things to know?

You have to rent the cabana in advance of your trip.  You can easily do so on their website.  (Rates are for 8 guests.  You can have up to 12 people at your cabana, but those extras must pay an entrance fee.)  And at that time, you can also rent your kayak or paddleboard for the day (so that it’s waiting at your deck the minute you arrive).  Rates were pretty high for this single mom.  But the amenities were fantastic.  And every penny was worth the fun we had.  You can bring your own boat or jet ski.  You can bring your fishing gear too.  Don’t forget your usual camping gear- towels, charcoal, lighter fluid, ice, food and drinks, sunscreen, bug repellent, etc.

 

Want to know more?  Get questions asked?  Ready to book?

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Whether you travel there from near or far… hope you love it… and hope you’re always having fun when you TRAVEL TEXAS!!!!!!

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)


GUEST POST! By JoAnn Schroeder

Did you know that May 1st was National Chocolate Parfait Day?!  Just found that out, as I was getting ready to post this week’s guest blog post!  But this is no ordinary chocolate parfait recipe that I’m about to share.  Why, you ask?  Because it was submitted by our very own children’s dental office!  😉

We’ve been going to Little Smiles Dentistry for years, and have know JoAnn for  a while.  Was excited when she said she’d come model for me.  Was thrilled when she said she’d have a new recipe for me!!!

 

 

“From the Desk of a Pediatric Dental Hygienist …

Everyone knows the “drill” for caring for your kiddos teeth…

  • Bruch twice a day, for two minutes each time.
  • Floss once a day.
  • Use a fluoride mouthrinse at bedtime.
  • Visit the dentist regularly.

BUT we must not forget how much diet plays a role in the health of their teeth. Does your little one have a sweet tooth?  Sugary treats lead to tooth decay, so how can we enjoy sweets without causing tooth decay?  Below is a KID APPROVED low sugar dessert recipe that will satisfy!

 

 

Low Sugar Chocolate Parafait

Serving Size/Yields

1 Parafait/6

Ingredients

1 Can Sugar Free Cool Whip

1 Large Box Sugar Free Chocolate Pudding (use low fat milk)

Bananas and/or Strawberries

Optional: Chocolate Graham Cracker Crumbles

Directions

  1. Begin by following directions on pudding package.
  2. Layer ½ cup pudding, fruit of choice, graham cracker crumbs (if using), repeat once more and top with 2 tbsp of whipped topping.
  3. Enjoy this quick and easy dessert!

 

 

 

Here’s the science behind the process of tooth decay.

The bacteria on the teeth feed off the sugar and produce an acid that slowly dissolves the tooth’s outer layer; enamel.  Enamel is the part of the tooth that is visible when you look in the mouth.  It is considered to be the hardest substance in the body and it’s primary purpose is to protect your teeth from damage!  However, the more sugar that is consumed throughout the day, the higher the risk of developing tooth decay.

Here at the dentist, we know kids will be kids.  And, we as parents have to remember, everything in moderation!  It’s all a balancing act.  Happy smiles is what’s important!  Until next time…

 

Happy Brushing-

JoAnn Schroeder, RDH at Little Smiles Dentistry

 

 

GUEST POST BY JOANN SCHROEDER (Proud mom, Boerne-ite, defender of teeth.)

My picture of JoAnn modeling our THANK YOU post card  🙂  ——————->

 

 

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)


GUEST POST! By Courtney Mosier

I’m excited to go live with our next guest blog post!  And one by someone I love following on instagram!

The funny thing is, she’s not a business.  She doesn’t teach me how to be a better entrepreneur, expose me to new recipes, keep me up to date with what’s happening around Boerne, or let me peak into the world of fashion and travel (which is pretty much all I follow).  But boy does she inspire me with her beautiful photography!!!  

And always thankful that she follows and supports our page… and volunteered for this gig!  😉  When asked to write this guest blog post, she was unsure of what to do.  But I love her take on:

Magnolia Market at the Silos!!!

 

 

“Texas is a big place, filled with so many fun, adventurous places to visit. I had the pleasure of recently going to Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, Texas. Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s show Fixer Upper have created quite the destination, which includes two huge grain silos and a large barn and a very welcoming atmosphere.  There is something to be found for everyone at the Silos. Ladies can shop, husbands can wander around the property and the silos (plus there is an area of manly items endorsed by Chip!), and the kids can enjoy games on the lawn.

The Market is full of house decor that you can shop and get ideas from just like you see on the show. It showcases Joanna’s design vision. The Market emphasizes home-design and accent pieces, including Joanna’s Signature Candles. As Joanna says, “bless your home.”

 

 

Pop into the Seed + Supply shed for all your gardening needs. It was nice to walk around outside and admire the beautiful garden beds. They make me wish I had more of a green thumb.

 

 

A must do is the Bakery! Pick up a sweet treat, and I highly recommend the cupcakes and melt-in-your-mouth cookies. Make sure to get extra to take home-you’ll be glad you did! A stop is necessary at the Common Grounds trailer to grab a coffee. Enjoy some sips on the lawn or while you stroll the grounds.

 

 

Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat at one of the vendors that line the property.  There were at least 6 food trucks to choose from and I had the bbq chicken pizza from the 900 Pizzeria. Oh my, I am telling you, it was the best pizza I have ever tasted.

If you couldn’t tell by now, this girl loves food!

 

 

While you are there, take the time to explore Waco. It is a charming town with so much to do. Take a tour of the Dr. Pepper Museum, stop at The Findery home decor store, or have a picnic in Cameron Park.

So, get your friends, gather your family, hop in the car, buy that plane ticket, and get on your way to enjoy all the charm this picturesque place has to offer. You won’t regret it! Make sure to bring along your camera, you’ll be glad you did.

A little tip; if you do not want to fight the crowds, be sure you plan to go earlier in the week rather than the weekend. Preferable in the afternoon after the lunch crowd moves on.  Magnolia averages 20,000-30,000 people a week with almost 10,000 just on Saturday. There will probably always be a line at the bakery, but it does move fast! Magnolia is definitely a fun destination to check out in Texas.”

Courtney’s instagram page- @wandering.blonde

 

GUEST POST BY COURTNEY MOSIER (Her ig bio says she’s “a wild, wandering soul.  loved by the maker of the stars.  photographer.  chocolate and coffee addict.  my life is a blonde moment.  texas y’all.”  When I asked her what she could tell me about herself, she replied with a simple “I’m just a photography and adventure loving girl who’s getting her bachelors degree right now in Healthcare Management.”  When asked more about her photography background, she added “I have had a love of photography since I was young. I always had a camera growing up and was always taking pictures. I did photography while I was in 4-H in middle school and got considered for state more than once. After saving my money for a long time!! Last year, I took the plunge and got a Canon 5d mark iii. It is a lot of camera for me, maybe too much but I enjoy learning to use the camera more and more each day. A lot of my photos are also taken from my iPhone. I love being able to express myself through photos and to use my creativity!”)

My picture of Courtney modeling our mason jar, BUY LOCAL, long sleeved tee 🙂  ——————->

 

 

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)