TRAVEL TEXAS- Chalk Bluff Park and Krause Springs

Just wrapped up the first two camping trips of the year.  Of course, they were supposed to be in our new vintage camper.  Instead, I was in a tent.  But that’s another story…

The first location we tried out was Chalk Bluff.  I had heard about it (and its crystal-clear waters and beautiful bluffs) for years, just had never made it out there.  The boys had a Friday off from school and my mom could get off work, so it was the perfect chance to go try it out.  We drove up immediately after school on Thursday, stayed until Sunday.

 

 

While the buildings and cabins looked very aged  (and I’d worry about the inside conditions)… the grounds, the bathhouse that we used, the playground, the animals, and the water were all fantastic!  And it was the best weekend!

My parents brought their rv and their pups.  Ben got to sleep with them in the a/c.  We had their stovetop for meals, as well as Dad bbq’ing on his grill.  Evan and I slept in the tent that they brought along for us.  And thanks to my incredible blow-up mattress and the nights getting into the 50’s, it was very pleasant.

 

I was thankful that we all brought our bikes, since the grounds were nice enough to bike everywhere.  Evan’s favorite stop was the playground.  With several new pieces of equipment and a couple of great (vintage) swings, we ended up there quite a bit.  My favorite stop was the strip of pins, filled with animals.  The park had resident pigs and guineas, donkeys, goats, axis deer, a zebra, a brand new foal, and the sweetest horses!  (They also have the big jumping pillows.  But we never ran out of other things to do.)

 

 

 

 

 

Ben and I spent one morning trying to find the unmarked path up to the top of the bluffs (for the stunning images I’ve seen on instagram).  But no luck.  And we couldn’t find any other hiking paths, so we spent all the rest of our time in the water.

The area has been in a severe drought, so the water was low.  But it was clear and beautiful.  And cold!  We found some deeper spots, so that we could swim with the fish.  We lounged in our tubes for hours.  Evan snorkeled.  The chalky bluffs provided a beautiful background (and some shade in the late afternoon).  It all made for a wonderful spot to relax and cool off in the afternoons.

 

 

 

Our evenings were spent enjoying music, the gorgeous weather, the moon, campfires, and s’mores.  The best family time!!!

 

 

 

And before we knew it, we were on a trip that I planned special for Mother’s Day weekend.  For this, I had to hurry and buy a tent (yep, camper was still far from being ready).  And Ben packed up his own little, personal tent.  We were on the road on Friday.

This trip was to Krause Springs, which a friend had been telling me about for the past year.

We arrived around dinner time, set up camp, drove down the road to grab some bbq, and then walked the gorgeous grounds.

 

 

 

 

Ben taught me how to use a camp stove, as he cooked up sausages on Saturday morning.  Served those up with cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  The boys spent hours with their Lego guys and green army men (and photographing them for upcoming photo competitions).  And then Evan and I spent all day in the water.

 

Both the rock swimming pool and the gorgeous swimming hole are fed by the springs, so they were both a chilly 68-degrees.  But totally refreshing from the Texas heat.  Evan loved the pool.  He swam around, quite a bit, with his mask and snorkel.  I took a dive or two of the diving board.  And we spent most of the day in natural pool, a gorgeous swimming hole, with waterfalls, lush plants, and picture-perfect spots.  I swam all over the area, pulling Evan around in his tube.

 

 

 

 

It was beautiful.  It was dreamy.  But I just couldn’t spend another night in a hot tent.  So I cooked up spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, and then we packed up camp.  It was nice to be back in my own bed on Saturday night, waking up on Mother’s Day to make a huge brunch for us.  Perfect weekend!

 

For more info or to make your reservations….

Chalk Bluff
website
facebook
instagram

Krause Springs
website
facebook
instagram

Go explore!  And have a great time, as you TRAVEL TEXAS!

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The Joy of Raising Chickens

IF YOU’VE BEEN CONTEMPLATING RAISING CHICKENS OF YOUR OWN, CONSIDER THIS:
-you may spend countless hours each week watching FARM TV in your backyard
-you may end up being labeled a “Crazy Chicken Lady”
-friends may tag you in every chicken social media post they see
-once you fall in love with your hens, this may lead to needing more chicks next year
-and since chickens are a gateway farm animal, you may next end up with a pig… goats… or sheep  😉

 

 
IF YOU’RE ALREADY READY TO PICK OUT YOUR FIRST CHICKS, CONSIDER THIS:
1- There are two main categories of chickens (standard and bantam).  Not only are their eggs different sizes, but the chickens are completely different sizes too.  Depending on your backyard/land, coop size, and egg needs, you’ll need to do a little research for what’s right for you.
2- Next up, it’s important you choose hens that are right for your region and weather.  Just like I can’t stand the cold, there are some breeds that do better in certain areas.
3- Next, decide if these will only be pets and egg-layers… or if you’ll eventually be using them for meat also.  This will help narrow down the breeds for you.
4- Not important, but next, we consider the look.  There are certain breeds that lay rosy-brown eggs, some dark brown, some will lay white, some green or blue.  And the chickens themselves are a wide range of colors and “designs.”
5- And then, no joke, we researched whether our favorite breeds were great with families/good with kids.  If personality is important to you, give that a read too.  Here’s a great reference guide on Country Living’s site –> https://www.countryliving.com/life/kids-pets/g2250/chicken-breeds-for-kids/

 

A great visual chart from the Manatee Chicken Hatchery:

Another great visual chart, from The Honest Worm:

 

 

IF YOU’RE READY TO GET GOING, START WITH THIS:
-a brooder (a safe, draft-free container with a layer of pine shavings, for housing)
-heat lamp(s), to keep their body temperatures warm enough
-constant clean water and source of starter/grower feed
-and of course, some love

 

All of these, found at our local Tractor Supply:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN YOUR HENS ARE OF-LAYING-AGE:
1- Always provide a great feed.  (A good protein and fiber content is important.  And if organic is a must for you, now is the most important time to provide that.)
2- Provide fresh greens and scraps.  (Grass, pulled weeds, herbs, and quite a few of your fruit and veggie scraps can be given to your chickens… and are a great way to add nutrition to the eggs that they’re laying.)
3- Let your hens free-range.  (Not only is it fun watching them chase bugs.  But that pest control they’re providing you will also benefit your eggs.)

 

 

 

An easy guide to the scraps that are healthy for your chickens and the foods that are dangerous, from Hobby Farms:

 

NEED EXTRA SUPPORT?
-We’ve gotten lots of great information from Fresh Eggs Daily ‘s instagram page and blog… plus, her book “Fresh Eggs Daily
-And not only do we get wonderful information from Tilly’s Nest, we also own her book “A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens.”
The Chicken Chick is another great blogger plus author.  Her book is “The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens.”
-“The Chicken Health Handbook” is a needed addition to a chicken owner’s library.
-“The Joy of Keeping Chickens” is an ultimate guide to raising, caring for, and even making some profit off your flock
-And if you want continuing support… and a family, I can’t say enough about signing up your kids for your local 4-H. The poultry club can be a wealth of information of what equipment you need, what to expect, learning about different breeds, learning about and preparing for sickness or first aid, choosing the right feed and safe table scraps, and even how to participate in chicken shows!

 

And just some pictures for inspiration (and for fun!)….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gotcha hooked, right?  Now go get yourself your own backyard flock!

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Market 1023

 

This happened quickly!

I was planning a full weekend in the College Station area. We were hoping that our camper would be finished. I had made reservations at Lake Somerville. We were spending all day Saturday at the Museum of the American GI, for their Living History Weekend. I had found a cute restaurant to try. And then I came across this gorgeous home/body/gift shop!

I looked all over Market 1023’s instagram page and website. In love with their products and story, I simply filled out the contact form. Introduced myself and the business, told our story, and linked to our social media. And I let them know we were here, if they were ever looking for a fairly local, natural, new line of products for their shelves.

I was so pleased to hear back from them within the week. So I got busy, making new products!

The kinks in our weekend? The camper wasn’t finished, I had to cancel our camping reservations, we had to cut the whole weekend down to just driving up and back on Saturday, and I wasn’t going to get to meet the owners of the shop. Bummer. But it turned out to be a wonderful day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The scoop on Market 1023?

“Market 1023 started in 2014, when Gabe and Robby began picking unique items and renovating/re-purposing furniture for the home they planned to move into the following year. As their stock pile of home decor items and furniture grew, family and friends quickly began requesting custom orders, and Market 1023 was born.

By mid-2015, Gabe and Robby launched an etsy shop and facebook page and started branching out from their friends and family network to bring Market 1023 to the public. In addition, the duo started marketing to local antique and home decor shops and began whole-selling their products.

After participating in seasonal shows in 2015 and early 2016, Gabe and Robby jumped at the opportunity to open their first brick and mortar in July of 2016. In the Fall of 2016 Market 1023 started plans to move to a more prime location, and over the first week of January, 2017, they made updates and moved into their current shop on Main Street!

Market 1023 is now a curated collection of over 50 small business and makers from across the United States. The name Market 1023 comes from Gabe and Robby’s anniversary – October 23 (10/23). At the heart of Market 1023 is a desire to build community and give back to the those who have supported Gabe and Robby’s dreams over the years.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

My impression?

I started oohing and aahing as we drove the parkway into downtown. Such beautiful old buildings!

Then we found our destination, headed inside with our products, visited, and got to take the tour.

The interesting thing is that the shop is split into two different spots (separated by a foyer), two different models.

One side is their VENDOR GALLERY. This is the larger space. The shop rents floor space out to (mostly local) vendors. The individual vendors are able to set up their displays as they like, sell what they’d like.

We found everything from signs, to jewelry, t-shirts, vintage clothing, some shoes, and cutting boards, to antique home decor, to unique lamps, to tea sets and old trunks, plush toys, and headbands.

There were several things that I had to decide between (that I loved). Ended up coming home with a cutting board. See the round board on the right? That’s now in my breakfast nook. It’s temporarily on my little island. But I have the perfect place for it on the wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other side is their CURATED SHOP. This is made up of items they make themselves… or that they’ve selected and consigned with makers across the US (which now includes us!!!).

Here we found soaps, candles, signs, enamel pins, magnets, keychains, succulents, tees, greeting cards, felt flowers, funny mugs, dog bandanas, and more!

I totally think our lip balms, healing salves, body scrubs, and bath salts fit right in!!! And I totally need to get our brand new bath bombs to them! Think it’s time to already ship new inventory to them. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, ready to find them, ready to shop?

Market 1023 is at 110 North Main St. in Bryan

Their website is here

Facebook is here

And their pretty instagram page is here (isn’t it so easy to fall in love with instagram feeds?!)

Follow them! Sign up for the e-newsletter! Or read through the blog! They have lots of things you’ll love… and events that you’ll want to attend!

PS- The vendor gallery had a great little dance floor spot… and great music playing. So guess what Evan did? 🙂

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GUEST POST! By Tori Bellos & Erika Yount

So excited to snag a few more guest blog posts before our next anniversary and annual model search!  

And this one comes to us from our very own Boerne Convention & Visitors Bureau!  Near and dear to all of us shops and restaurants here in town… because their passion is talking about and promoting everything that makes our town amazing (including us)!

 

 

“Take A Break FROM Spring Break in Boerne!

Spring Break is right around the corner! The kids are all psyched for theme parks and hectic places filled with other spring-breakers. If a full week of spring break vacation isn’t in the cards, (as a working mom, I’m raising my hand over here!) the good news is that there are two weekends flanking the kid’s break from school. One for crazy crowded “kid stuff” and another on the back end for a more mellow family outing to recoup from the kids being HOME ALL WEEK.

Boerne has always been the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  The air is fresh, the landscape is lush, and the possibilities are endless!  Here are 6 perfect ideas on how to enjoy your Spring Break in the Texas Hill Country!

1. GET OUTDOORS –

After a long, cold winter, nothing beats the way the sun feels on your skin again!  But if you’re concerned about crowds, here are some options you can take advantage of to make sure it’s a more relaxing experience!  Bring your kayaks or tubes for a lazy expedition along the Guadalupe River.  Choose to rent paddle boards, kayaks, or tubes from Hill Country Paddle Sports or Bergheim Campground and River Outfitters.  If you opt for bringing your own, the perfect entry-point for this is at the James Kiehl River Bend Park, and you can hop right back out at the Waring: Welfare Crossing when you’re done for the day!  Enjoy a cave tour at either one of Boerne’s caves: Cave Without A Name or Cascade Caverns!  Horseback ride beneath towering, breathtaking hills with Stricker Trail Rides or Diamond C Stables.  If none of this fits your bill, take a simple walk at any one of Boerne’s local parks and trails! If you’re ok with a little bit of a spring break crowd, Guadalupe River State Park and Boerne City Lake Park are both popular outdoor destinations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. GET ARTSY –

For those of you who have an eye for the new and different, art is always a good go-to.  Challenge yourself to new ideas and interpretations of the world around you by visiting the art galleries that Boerne has to offer!  The Nic Campbell Studio and Gallery has quite the magnitude of paintings . . . and when I say “magnitude”, I mean these paintings are actually large in size!  They will take your breath away.  Downtown Boerne has multiple art galleries, with local artistry as well as work from artists around the country!

Kids aren’t down for art galleries? The Maker’s Place is a fun outing to get the creative juices flowing with some ceramic or canvas painting. If you’re in from out of town, they now offer an option to ship your master piece after it has been in the kiln. Another option is to lace up the tennies and hit the trails and sidewalks to check out all the public art around town in the Art Al Fresco program!

 

 

 

 

3. GET INDULGENT –

Dad may need to step up to the plate on this one. Nothing beats a good massage, a cleansing facial, or getting your hair and nails done.  Opt for a massage at any one of our many salons and spas!  Nothing says rejuvenation like a freshly painted manicure or pedicure, a new ‘do for your locks, or the glowing effects of a deep cleansing facial. Let’s be honest: Mommy needs a break, and this type of activity is sure to get the job done!  Boerne offers so much when it comes to treating yourself . . . which brings us to our next idea!

 

4. GET SHOPPING-

The shopping in Boerne is unlike anywhere else.  Find the latest and greatest on Boerne’s Hill Country Mile in Texas fashions, décor, furniture, gifts and more.  Grub it up along the way while you browse the shops!  Depending on your kiddo, hitting the shops may not be their thing, and that’s ok! The Farmer’s Market at the Cibolo will be open just in time for Spring Break too!  Every Saturday from 9AM-1PM, you can shop for fresh produce and take home unique products that will mark your Boerne experience.  Make your rounds to visit the local vendors and enjoy natural beauty products, fresh coffee, handmade items and live music!  Take a tour of the historic Herff Farm Homestead or hit the trails at the Cibolo Nature Center while you’re there too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

©Snap Chic Photography

 

 

5. GET DANCING –

What’s that saying?  Dance like no one’s watching?  Let go of your inhibitions and find yourself a place to let loose!  Those are the memories the kids will truly remember. Live music is always happening at places like The Roundup and Random!  Check out the Boerne Visitor Center event calendar for details on artists, dates, and special events!  You can also get a true Texas experience at one of the dancehalls nearby!  There are plenty of places to boogie, so grab the kids or your significant other and get two-stepping!

 

 

©Bradford Coolidge Photography

 

6. GET TOURING-

Tours on tours on tours!  Boerne has so much for you to learn and discover.  Get a taste of the Hill Country goods by taking a winery or brewery tour. Yes, the wineries and breweries in our area are fairly family friendly. No sommelier stink eyes here! Get educated on how these tasty spirits are made! Not in the mood for drinks? (Hey! It could happen.) Learn about Boerne’s rich German heritage, both fact and folklore, on a Boerne Walking Tour!  And if you have older kiddos, you can’t go wrong with Hill Country Food Tours.  You won’t walk more than 2 blocks without trying something spectacular from Boerne’s locally owned restaurants and culinary stops along the Hill Country Mile!”

 

 

 

 

 

Co-written by Tori Bellos & Erika Yount. Both ladies love representing the Boerne community as a tourism destination at the Boerne Convention & Visitors Bureau. Swing by the Visitor Center to say hi while in the Boerne area.

Tori is a long-time Boerne resident and mother of two little girls. Erika is a recent transplant and loving life in the Texas Hill Country!

 

 

Now, about Tori?  I’ve gotten to know her a little bit over the years.  And I got her to model for me last year.  Obvious choice- our Boerne latitude/longitude t-shirt!  Shown below \/  Always in stock, in adult and kids sizes!  🙂  —–>  Our online shop

 

 

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My Favorite Accounts!

The other day, our entire Boerne retailers group was asked to list a few of our favorite LOCAL lifestyle, food, fashion, travel, style, and influential instagram accounts and bloggers.

I was surprised that no one listed me 😉…..

But I came up with a pretty long list of my favorites!

So I thought I’d take some time to actually pull together a blog post, to introduce you to some accounts that may just give you all the heart eyes…

@SanAntonioStephanie
Stephanie
Sweet and sassy.  Totally food-obsessed.  Scroll her feed for well-lit, scrumptious, colorful food and drink (and quite a bit of pumpkin spice-everything in the fall)  😉  Keep up with the latest restaurants, happy hour specials, cocktail conferences, and more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

@MakerMama
Amy
Totally focused on her family, being a mom, making, photographing, collaborating, and inspiring.  Scroll through her feed for colorful and dreamy images!

 

 

 

 

 

 

@HungryTravelingMama
Lola
More good food and drink.  So much food and drink!  Great photography, yummy recipes, and traveling Texas (like me!).  Her feed is bright and colorful… and will totally make you hungry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

@TheSocialButterflyGal
Christina
All business and spunk in this social media-savvy account.  Scroll the feed for blog posts and books you need to read, webinars you need to watch, and steps to take to revive and grow your business!  You can also get personal training from Christina when you sign up to work with her one-on-one!  Wonderful support and inspiration for girl bosses!  <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

@HotMamaNTheCity
Kristina
Food, fun, San Antonio happenings, and lots of glimpses into her sweet little family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

@TwentySomethingSA
Jacqueline and Alyssa
Yep.  More food and drink.  And beautiful imagery of events, travel, festivals, and more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

@AtTheFireHydrant
Telma
More beautiful food and drink pics.  Plus family life, local happenings, bbq, and shopping.  And who doesn’t need more dog pics and new baby pics in their life?!

 

 

 

 

 

@JosieRees
Josie
All food, all the time!  But not just the best of what’s to eat around San Antonio.  She’s also sharing gorgeous and delicious recipes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

@TheStoriBook
Tori
Style, color, beauty, fabric, glamour, and gorgeousness… all rolled into one!

 

 

 

 

 

@WellFedFamilia
Adrienne
A split between delicious and healthy recipes that you can make for your family and their sweet adoption story.  So much goodness and cuteness!  (Side note- I didn’t realize that Adrienne and her family had moved.  So she’s not technically a local ig account/blogger any more.  But still love her enough, to include her in this post.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@SAFoodNStuff
Ben and Becca
Gorgeous food.  Pretty drinks.  From all over San Antonio!  All food, all the time.  Seriously!  There’s not even a post that shows what they look like.  Ha ha!  😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

@SarasPerspective
Sara
A different look at the ordinary and extraordinary.  Dreamy aspects of the same old, same old.  Beauty and inspiration!

 

 

 

 

 

@Sarah_TheBella
A ray of sunshine and color!  Style, fashion, flowers, desserts, sunsets, murals, and more!  A happy feed full of turquoise and pink.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

@SunshineAndSeasalt
Mary
Dark, hazy, dreamy, and artsy photography of her recipes.  Gluten-free, healthy, beautiful goodness that she’s feeding her family… and you can feed yours!

 

 

 

 

 

@MintSociety
Ranya
Cool, sassy, and a little bit kick-assy.  Colorful and happy account full of style and fun!

 

 

 

 

@Christina_Coker
Christina
Stunning style guru and mom.  Feed is filled with family, fun, color.  And she always looks gorgeous!  Who does that?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

@DesignImprovised
Haeley
A bright, colorful, fun feed full of holiday arts, crafts, and recipes!  Eek!  A DIY-er’s dream come true!

 

 

 

 

 

 

@SowingSeedsTX
Shawna
A glimpse into this lady’s sweet family.  And everything you need to know about what’s happening in the hill country.  With her blog, you won’t miss a beat!  Plus, she’s been known to blog about local shops and their offerings.  And I SO appreciate that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

@JessicaLynnStrom
Jessica
Food, drink, fun, and hill country happenings.  An easy way to keep up to date on what’s going in our area… the latest restaurants… and coffee!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you get all that?!  Amazing girl entrepreneurs!  Gorgeous photography!  Inspiration for days!  Delicious food and drink!  Incredible travel!  And kick-ass San Antonio/hill country happenings!

I encourage you to (and I’m sure you now want to) follow each and every one of these accounts.  I made it easy.  Each of their instagram handles links directly to their instagram feed.  Follow… engage… and enjoy!

 

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Kendall County Jr. Livestock Show

The broiler project for the Jr. Livestock Show has certainly been an experience!

 

 

 

Over the last five years, we’ve raised the chickens indoors (in the garage) and outdoors.  In handmade buildings and in our water trough (that has been used as our pool during the rest of the year).  😉

We’ve had a year when we lost several of them to the cold or bad health.  We had this year, when only one passed away during the whole process.

We’ve enjoyed the first week of every project year, cuddling those little balls of fluff.  We’ve avoided touching the yucky birds they turn into for the rest of the project.

We’ve tended to them through decent days, but also through cold, wind, rain… and even snow this year!

 

 

 

Ben has done well in the show ring.  But he’s also come in second to last.  One year, we even missed the show because I had the date wrong on the calendar.  (no joke!)

Ben has also done very well in the auction.  He’s also been a little disappointed, like last night.

 

 

 

Yesterday was a bunch of hurrying and waiting.  We hurried out to Seguin, to have the birds processed.  And then we sat for about three hours, as we waited our turn, as we waited for our birds.  Then we hurried to the auction.  And then we sat for six hours, as we waited for Ben’s turn on the stage.  During this time we saw some small bids, we noticed lots of poultry getting what Ben usually receives, we saw animals of all kinds get incredible totals for the kids (I mean, there were several moments of clapping and cheering!).  And then it was finally Ben’s turn.  In just a couple of minutes, it was over.  Of course, a BIG THANK YOU to Kendall County Abstract Company (where we’ve actually done business several times ).  And to Wild Game Dinner for the add-on (where Ben has loved going with his dad the last couple of years)!!!!!  But I know Ben was sad that there weren’t a few add-ons that we were expecting.  Especially since he still has to pay me back for all of the feed and shavings.  Bummer.  But… we could always be surprised with add-ons that happen over the next few days (fingers crossed!).  🙂

 

 

 

But here’s what I really wanted to tell, in case you don’t know the show day fiasco yet…..

It begins with the fact that we had chosen three large, matching female birds.  We separated them from the rest.  Ben and I bathed them.  We transported them to check-in at the barn on the day of the show.  We were there in plenty of time.  We were ready for a successful day.

As we’re in line, we go ahead and start the paperwork.  During this time, we notice that one of the broilers doesn’t have her required id tag.  We had no other choice than run back home to trade her out for another female.  This is trip #1.

We’re back in line again.  And we actually make it up to the check-in station.  Then it’s pointed out to us that one of the birds has broken her wing.  No choice but to run back home to trade her out for another female.  This makes trip #2.

We’re almost back to the barn, when Ben yells “The new chicken is bleeding!!!  She’s torn off her tag!”  So we pull over.  Check-in ends in about 20 minutes.  We’re all laughing at this point.  Laughing so hard, I’m also crying.  And getting very worried Ben’s completely missed his chance to be in the ring and in the auction.  We know it will take about 11 minutes to get home, about 11 minutes back (we know this because I had this inkling during our second trip back home that we’d need to know this information).  As a group (Ben, his dad, and I), we went through our options as quickly as we could.  And we decided to try one more time.  There was obviously no time to try to choose three males instead.  We had to trade out a female again.  This is trip #3!

When we get back to the barn, the incredible officers, directors, and volunteers are waiting for us!!!!!  We’re exhausted.  I explained why we took so long.  I was told to breathe.  No problem!  And then they were laughing along with us.

When given a chance to reflect, we realize we really don’t know what the two new birds looks like.  No chance of doing well in the show ring.  And he was dismissed from the show during the second round.  But seriously, we were okay with that.  Lessons learned!  And we also saw how amazingly everyone worked under pressure.  So impressed with our teamwork, I announced that we should sign up for The Amazing Race.  But not really.  I don’t ever want to do something like this ever again.  😉

 

 

 

 

 

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TRAVEL TEXAS- Ox Ranch & Drive Tanks!!!

This was our third Christmas without gifts, our third Christmas to celebrate experiences and our family.

Two years ago was Galveston and Moody Gardens.  Last year was Waco, Cameron Park Zoo, and the Magnolia Silos.

This year was something that fit the bill for the animal-lover, photographer, and military-obsessed genes in all of us.

Our first day of vacation was actually spent trying to take care of all of the pets, traveling to Uvalde, and enjoying our very last-minute vrbo rental (because our vintage camper wasn’t ready in time).  🙁

 

Day two was an animal experience of a lifetime.  We met my parents at the beautiful Ox Ranch main lodge… and headed out on our three-hour exotics tour.  Our sweet guide, Candace, drove us around to all the best spots for interacting with and photographing their beautiful creatures.

 

We first met a red river hog that was very friendly and very hungry.  He hung around with us quite a bit.  We all got to feed him.  And he marked most of us with slobber, as he rubbed on our legs.

 

A (still un-named) sweet little longhorn then came over to check out my camera.  He was precious!  And was very curious to see what I was up to.

 

Evan got to feed a couple of elands.

 

And then we were all totally entertained by the camel and ostrich enclosure.  While the ostriches strutted around, flapped, and hissed at us… the camels (Sushi and the gang) couldn’t wait to visit and eat.  Dad and I fed them.  The kids totally got sneezed on!  (Ben said it looked like silly string!)

 

 

 

 

 

Our next visit was with Fireball, a TALL, beautiful, sweet kangaroo.  He was lovely.  Evan fed him some bananas.  And I got to pet him.  The whole time I scratched his neck, he was licking me!  So cute!

 

Out in the fields, we got to see the longhorns, buffalo, yaks, and more.

 

 

 

We got an all-too-short encounter with the beautiful giraffes.

 

 

And then we met Dilbert… the cutest lechwe antelope we’ve ever run into.  (and I guess, the only one we’ve run into)  😉

 

We tracked down the zebras.

 

And then, as we sat around the firepit back at the lodge, we had a kangaroo come around to snag some of our popcorn.  It came right up to us, snacked with us, looked right into my camera lens.  Swore he was going to hug me.

 

 

It was the most amazing outing! But… time for lunch!

We drove off the ranch, into Camp Wood, for lunch at Nueces Country Smokehouse.  A few brisket sandwiches, a cheeseburger, and a delicious BLT later, we headed back to the ranch.

This time, we drove up to Drive Tanks, where we got one more giraffe encounter (with Buttercup) before going into the warehouse.

 

Once inside, we got a complete (and a little bit behind-the-scenes) tour.  Our guide, Riley, walked us through all of their guns, artifacts, and tanks.  He spouted out information and cool facts.  He quizzed Ben (and totally stumped him on a couple of things).  😉

And then we headed outside to meet up with Spencer, who pulled the highlight of the trip together for us.  The Leopard A5 German tank experience.  Evan and I got to climb into the loader and commander’s positions of the tank.  Ben climbed into the driver’s seat.  And Spencer road along, giving Ben instructions on how to drive the course.  It was pretty amazing from the top of the tank.  Can’t imagine how thrilling it was for my all-American, history-loving, WWII-fanatic, tank-obsessed kid!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m sure you’d love to find out more about this 18,000+ acre ranch… and all it has to offer:

Ox Ranch
Website
Facebook
Instagram

Drive Tanks
Website
Facebook
Instagram

Please!  Go hunt, take the guided tour, visit the guys out at Drive Tanks too.  Would love to see these businesses thrive.  And I’m sure you’d have a great time!

Take it all in.  And ENJOY… every time you TRAVEL TEXAS!!!

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GUEST POST! By Candice Curry

I am so excited to go live with our next guest blog post!   

And while I assumed her post was going to be about her involvement with Alamo City Moms Blog, her book (The Con Man’s Daughter, which I loved), her spiritual journey (the “Jesus is my jam” phrase makes me think of her, every time I see it), any one of her kids’ amazing accomplishments (they’re all kicking ass in school, in the community, in life!), her trip to Disney this summer (with all of these kids!), or a reference to her much-publicized blog post about co-parenting…

Instead, a sweet, sad, and hopeful look into this summer’s tragedy here in Texas.

 

 

“Out Of The Wreckage: A Gift From Hurricane Harvey

Many years ago my daughters’ teacher handed down her dining room table to my family. She was down sizing and we were up sizing. It was perfect. There was a bench on one side, two chairs on the others side, and a chair on each end. Our family of 6 fit perfectly.

Their family got a new table and made new memories.
My family got their old one and began building our own memories.

But then we grew.
We added another kid.
My mom moved next door.
Our dear friends moved next door to her.
All of the sudden, our table no longer held us.

On most nights we either scattered around the house for dinner or my husband had to pull his office chair up to the table. On more than one occasion we ate in shifts or half of us stood around the stove and balanced our plates while attempting to eat with grace.
We like to be together.
We like big family dinners with our friends and family.
But we don’t like sitting in each others laps.
Our table was old and we outgrew what it had to offer.

Then along came Hurricane Harvey. He tore through the Texas coast with a vengeance, twisting everything in his path. He broke the unbreakable and crushed the uncrushable.
He stole.
He destroyed.
He devastated.

Like a lot of hard working handy men, my neighbor, who I’ve been friends with since we were 6, headed down south to help clean and rebuild what Hurricane Harvey tried to ruin. He hooked his trailer to his truck and traveled back and forth from home to the coast, helping where he could but coming home to be with his family as often as possible.

One Friday afternoon after another coast trip, he pulled into his driveway and sent me a text; “Can you come outside please”.
I hurried outside to see what was wrong… and on the back of his trailer was what looked like an old beat up picnic table. It was covered in wet sheet rock, mud, and other stuff I didn’t care to identify.

“Well, here’s your new dining table.”

He had rescued an 8-foot farm table out of piles of wreckage, and the man he was working for said he could have it.
It had a bum leg and was in need of some serious cleaning, but it fit.
It fit my family and then some.  And after a little love, some extra nails, and some Dawn dish soap, it was beautiful.

It’s full of bruises, nicks, and even some crayola marks, but it has character and tells a story of two families, one who lost it due to Harvey and one who gained it due to Harvey.

Their family will get a new table and make new memories.
My family got their old one and will rebuild what was taken from them.

Harvey, try as he might, didn’t leave complete devastation in his wake. He gave little gifts here and there, gifts no one expected.
People helped people and loved on each other in ways we would never have, had Harvey not blown through. Friends were made through sacrifices and giving. Faith was restored through people serving each other and going beyond our normal friendly smile and wave.
We reached down deep, set differences aside.  We emptied what we had to fill up what others needed. Without even knowing it, we passed down things and helped others grow.

I’m not sure I believe anything is ever a complete loss. I believe there’s always something good to be found in anything. I think beauty sneaks up in the places we least expect it. I think there’s bits and pieces o f redemption in the deeps piles of wreckage. When we dig deep we can find a blessing in anything.”

 

 

 

 

GUEST POST BY CANDICE CURRY  

And ALL the places you can find her and her family making waves:

Candice Curry

Her Instagram

Women With Worth

The Con Man’s Daughter

Her interview with The Open Door Sisterhood

Alamo City Moms Blog

An Open Letter to My Daughter’s Stepmom

Bella’s Blessing Bins

 

 

 

My picture of Candice modeling our coconut lemongrass laundry detergent   ——————->

 

 

 
And my take on/my experience with Candice?  She:
1- discovered our healing salve at our very first Boerne Handmade Market (and to this day, uses it for everything and talks about it even during podcast interviews on totally different subjects)
2- has been a HUGE cheerleader for my business (cannot thank her enough!)
3- has modeled for me twice (I pay her in healing salve)  😉
4- has become a friend (who even has my name written on her prayer wall!)  <3
So I’m invested.  I’m a cheerleader for her too.  And I definitely think she is someone to watch!

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Boerne Diva Night!

This evening took months of planning for us local retailers.  Some blood, sweat, tears… and a lot of love.

And the evening went like so:

The check-in stations at Dienger Trading Company and The Flower Shop opened up right at 5:00.  The first 100 ladies at each station got to check in and register to win the two pretty incredible prize baskets that we all donated our products to.  The ladies also walked away with a swag bag containing a boa, a tiara, coupons, pamphlets, chocolate, and gifts.  And then the ladies were set loose on Main Street, all along the Hill Country Mile!

 

From our end (way up north of most of the happenings), things stayed busy but not crowded.

We had Little Brown Crane join us, with a table set up on our sidewalk to sell her homemade, home-sewn coloring/art folders, diaper clutches, and nap mats.

 

Hill Country Homestead also joined her on our sidewalk, giving out olive oil dips and samples of her organic, homemade bread.  To some of our shoppers’ delight, she was also selling some of that goodness… so they could take it home with them.

 

I had decorated the sidewalk area to be an inviting place for girl friends to sit and relax.  We had paper lanterns hung, comfy chairs and couches set out, coffee tables for their drinks, and music playing.

 

Inside, we had all of our usual homemade products available for shopping (lip balms, healing salves, vapor rubs, body scrubs, warmer melts, and laundry detergents).  Our pink himalayan salt lamps and doTERRA products were all in stock.  We had also our new Monat hair care line for sale.

 

Our fiesta medals were up for grabs.  ($4 from the sale of each one is going to be donated to Kendall County 4-H and our 4-H poultry group!)

 

And we had some limited edition Boerne greeting cards available for purchase, made by one of my favorite fellow makers (PolkaDot Paper Company).

 

We had several of Shutter-Happy Photography’s portrait backgrounds available for selfies.

 

 

And we had lots of goodies to enjoy…

I made AllRecipes’ Foolproof Fudge (one of my easiest and yummiest recipes).  Yummy, creamy, decadent, and dreamy!

 

I made AllRecipes’ Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread.  Moist, spicy, delicious… and so easy to make.

 

I whipped up Just a Pinch’s Leche Quemada.  Chalky, sugary-sweet, with a beautiful, caramel flavor.

 

And I pulled together Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Honeycrisp Apple Sangria (which I heard was pretty amazing)!

 

So we spent the evening visiting, selling, snacking, and totally enjoying ourselves!

{A big THANK YOU to all of our friends, family, and customers that dropped by to support us!}

 

Now, from what I’ve heard:

There was a great dj and some entertaining singers in front of Joli.  The most exciting food were the donuts at Flashback FuntiquesPixie had a beautiful selfie station.  Some friends were really excited about the cute items they scored at Dang Sassy.  Ladies loved our cute cups and lounge area.  There was delicious alcohol everywhere.  The best things were the shops’ awesome clearance racks.  And everyone had a fabulous time!

We sure hope you made it to fun evening.  If not, watch for the spring date!

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Boerne Handmade Market!!!

I am still sore this morning.  And still SO thrilled.  Wanna shout from the rooftops how wonderful it was to see so many friendly faces and meet so many new people, to have sales like never before, to have a little helper who really wanted to be there with me!

I guess the whole story of Boerne Handmade Market started for us in October of 2013, just three months after starting up the business.

 

 

But the story of this particular market began a couple of months ago.

The planning stage is first… going over all of the ingredients, jars, and labels, plus handouts, shopper bags, and extra equipment needed for a booth space.  Next is the ordering/shopping phase that drains the checking account and spirit.  Then I spend a couple of weeks in a sterilization phase.  (You wouldn’t believe how many loads of glass jars go through my dishwasher in those two weeks!)

Finally I get to the fun part!  Measuring, mixing, pouring, and labeling.  It smells amazing!  It’s methodical.  It’s therapeutic.  It’s my happy place.  It’s a little difficult to find space to make my usual delicious dinners, but I can make it happen.  And all of our dining room table gets completely covered in my work, but we have a breakfast table.  So it’s all good!!!

 

 

And for this particular market, I decided it was finally time to make a couple of long-awaited adjustments.  I finally switched our laundry detergents over to an unscented version.  And I FINALLY made a whole bunch of wool dryer balls!  Now, this took MANY skeins of yarn and some panty hose, a few movies on Netflix, a whole Sunday afternoon, a hot load of laundry, and a few cycles in the dryer.  It took some guesses on boxing and labeling (in which I goofed on a little bit).  But…

Back to the timeline, next was set-up.  Evan (my 9-year-old) helped me find our space in the Cana Ballroom and helped me carry in my big chalkboard.  But then I needed to get him to his dad’s.  So the rest was up to me.  Three HEAVY trunks filled with t-shirts.  Countless numbers of rubbermaids, filled with product and needed items.  Several trips loading from the shop to the truck, then unloading from the truck to the ballroom.  Quick set-up.  Then home to get a good night’s sleep.

I was up bright and early… and the day was a blur!

I was on my feet the entire day.  Never got a restroom break.  Scarfed down a quesadilla at my booth at lunchtime.  And what else?

 

 

I remember being slammed from 9:00 to 1:00.  Some fellow vendors made it over to shop and visit.  Some past customers came by to stock up on their favorite products.  Some of my friends and some of the boys’ teachers stopped by to chat.  I met so many new people.  I got to tell our story.  I got to talk about my favorite product.  I handed out about a hundred copies of Best of TX Hill Country Magazine.  I handed out lots of information about us, Diva Night, Small Business Saturday, and the Hill Country Handmade Market.  I sold out of our new dryer balls immediately!  It’s funny when I remember all of these moments.  I remember trying to check people out as I was packing up their bags, as I was answering a bunch of questions from other shoppers.  It really was nuts!  All while trying to deliver great customer service.

About this time, my parents stopped by and brought me a Steel City Pops carrot cake popsicle.  (yum!)  And I realized I had missed a bunch of texts.  Turns out Evan desperately wanted to be at the market with me.

 

 

 

1:00 to 2:00 was still crazy-busy.  At this point, I was down to just a couple of vapor rubs, only a few handouts, and I was out of our thank you cards.

Evan was with me from 2:00 to 4:00.  He took over all of the checkout process.  So while he was doing that, I was able really focus on finishing off the customer experience.  We wrapped up the day beautifully.  He did an incredible job helping me pack up and get everything back to the truck.  And for payment, I treated him to a crocheted hedge hog (from a neighbor’s booth) and Whataburger (his choice!).

So we headed back to the shop, ate dinner, and unpacked everything.  And at this point, I am sore from being on my feet all day and from all the lifting.  So we headed home for a movie on the couch.  (But thrilled to report that we had a happy dance interrupt our movie when I got the square report that we had 72 transactions in that 7 hour period!  Have never had anything like that happen!)

 

 

So… so many thank yous…

To all the fellow vendors.  For following us and engaging with us on instagram, tagging us in posts, for shopping with us, for loving on us!  What an amazing community to be involved in!

To all of our customers.  None of this is possible without you.  Thank you for listening to our story, supporting our little family, trusting me to help you make a change in your buying habits.

And to Alyssa and Beth!  For your blood, sweat, tears, passion, support, time, attention to detail, and love for all things handmade!  Way to go on an amazing new location and a completely flawless execution (from what I saw and experienced).  We had a wonderful time, incredible sales.  So blessed to have your market available to us!

Okay, I just cried a little while writing that.  Changing it up a bit with a bunch of pics that I just snagged off of instagram.  Credit goes to the vendors and customers that took them!  (yay for hashtags on instagram, making amazing things possible!!!)

 

@ososweetdesigns

 

@karmacandlemakers

 

@minttobecreations

 

@neelitweetpeep

 

@notsomexicancanary

 

@asherandgraydesigns

 

@polkadotpapercompany

 

@ardent_hands_designs

 

@flynnandthefox

 

@petitechalet

 

@laurad.7

 

@magpie_handmade

 

@sweetteesandsunshine

 

@shopwhiteloft

 

@ruthandesther

 

@stationerybakery

 

@immeasurableshop

 

@rebeccahoot

 

@boernehandmademarket

 

Looking to participate in or shop at the next market?  I’ll announce 2018 dates as soon as I hear them!  Or follow Boerne Handmade Market here…

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