Huntsville & East Texas

Since we’re rooted in Texas, I like to talk about Texas. Think of this as a travel piece, if you will, because by the end, you’ll want to see all East Texas has to offer.

Things to Do in (2)

Full disclosure, I’ve only been to East Texas once, but it was enough to know what it’s all about. I stayed in Huntsville for a weekend, and I did so much in the area.

 

Forest

My favorite part was the Sam Houston National Forest. It’s over 160,000 acres of tall, green, dense pines. For someone who’s only lived in the Hill Country or along the coast, this was such a shock. It’s kind of humbling, actually, seeing these things that are so much bigger and more majestic than you.

I went in through Huntsville State Park, which has miles and miles of hiking trails.

For more nature, you can hit up nearby Lake Conroe or any of the other lakes and creeks in East Texas.

 

History

Texas is chalk full of history. We’ve been under six flags, including our own, and won a lopsided revolution.

Our first president was Mr. Sam Houston, and the town of Huntsville doesn’t let you forget it. Huntsville loves Sam Houston. It’s home, of course, to Sam Houston State University, and every year around his birthday in March, there’s a festival where the town basically shuts down and gathers for history, food, music, and more.

If you’re not there for the festival, you can still become an expert on the president. His bagillion foot-tall statue towers over I-45 coming into Huntsville from Houston. In town you can visit the Homestead, which has the “Steamboat House” where he died, his law office, and more. You can also visit his grave at Oakwood Cemetery.

 

More in Huntsville

One of the most fascinating parts of Huntsville is its prison system. It is home to the big daddy- Texas State Penitentiary Huntsville Unit, as well as six other units. It’s here in Huntsville that convicts in Texas are executed. You can’t really tour the prison, obviously, but there are ways to learn about it and its past. There’s the Prison Museum in town, and the cemetery. I must warn you, the Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery is moving and haunting. Not haunted (I mean I guess it could be) but haunting because the experience just sticks with you. It’s where death row inmates and unclaimed deceased inmates are buried, dating back to the 1800s. Some have unmarked crossed. Some have marked crosses. Some are marked, but only with prison number, not name.

While you’re there, keep an ear out for the prison sirens. Every hour, they do a prison check, and they use a city-wide siren system to help keep everyone on the same page. One siren announces the head count is beginning, and a second announcing that it’s over, but if you hear a third siren, that means someone hasn’t been accounted for or something went wrong.

IMG_0376

 

Also, Huntsville is home to a guy that lives in a boot.

IMG_0383

More in East Texas

As I’m not super well-traveled in this part of the state, I know it has a lot to offer! There’s of course the forest and plenty for outdoorsmen to do. If that’s not your thing, head south to Houston where there are endless goings-on.

If Houston isn’t your thing, hit up towns like Nacogdoches, Palestine, or Tyler.

I guess if Texas in general just isn’t your thing, Louisiana is just a hop, skip, and a jump across the Sabine!

 

Sources:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/texas/about-forest/districts/?cid=fswdev3_008443

https://events.shsu.edu/event/general_sam_houston_folk_festival_8269#.WtDbdi7wbIU

A Note on Failure

Failure: what it is or isn’t, a couple of my experiences, and takeaways.

 

I will admit, a small part of creating this blog was a way for me to grow our business and add a new dimension to what we were creating. It was a way for me to celebrate successes (and a little bit of a marketing strategy).

But, that’s only a small part of it. The biggest reason why I started this was just because I missed blogging and writing. For years, I was all about writing and journalism. In high school and college, I wrote for the newspaper, covering my high school football team, and I loved it. Then I went to college with journalism as my major, determined to be a globe-trotting writer, drinking coffee in Prague, taking pictures in New York, and interviewing chefs in Rome. All kinds of fabulous stuff. I even had a blog before this (itwasbooks.blogspot.com) where I reviewed books. It wasn’t bad, honestly. I was quoted on author Philippa Gregory’s website once, just below and beside “USA Today” and “New York Daily News.”

Then, after actually studying it in college, I grew to hate it. Journalism, that is, not writing. I’ll always be a writer. Just not a journalist. No. Thank. You.

So now, I am in advertising and business!

Why is knowing that bit about me important?

It’s an example of something that didn’t work out (it took $10,000 and year to figure it out). I am not at all whatsoever in any way, shape, or form a life coach or wise-all woman. No. I am a “small business owner”-ish type person, however, so I know what it feels like when things don’t work out. As a business owner and blogger, I feel like I have an obligation to talk about business, entrepreneurship, creativity, and risks, at least a little bit.

Keep it honest.

 

So. Failure.

Or as a like to say, a lesson.

That’s so important to know. No matter what happens, you are always learning.

This can best be felt for me through my first real failure with this thing- pot holders.

This was the first time I tried to make them. I had fabric, and I bought the special insulated batting. I cut my fabric and batting, and finally, when I got behind my machine… I screwed it all up. I tried eight to ten times probably, and they were ugly as hell. I was so devastated. I paid all this money, spent all this time, wasted all these materials, and for what? A shitty pot holder that no one is going to buy? How will I make this money back?  What the hell am I going to do with this stupid batting? Or these ugly-ass pot holders? What could I have successfully made with this fabric that has now been wasted?

I know. They’re just some stupid pot holders, but the feelings I felt, the questions I asked myself, I think can happen anytime. If you’re a business owner, and you’re reading this, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. There’s no worse feeling than that feeling of loss.  If not, you still probably know what I mean!

Despite how ugly they were, I put them up for sale anyway.

 

And they sold out in one day.

 

I was stunned. The craftsmanship was poor, and the designs weren’t anything special, so what the hell? What happened with these?

Well, I thought about it, and I came to this conclusion: in my case, it was my honesty. It was my customer service. It was my kindness, my openness with people, and even my laughter about the whole thing. The environment I created around it in my panic is what sold them.

So what’s the lesson here?

I learned a couple things through my failure. One, I need to practice more, and two, how to market something not-so-good (through just being a decent human).

So yeah, failure is inevitable and guaranteed to happen. For example, I still put grainy, pixel-y pictures on here. I could be breaking copyright laws by using pictures that aren’t my own (most are, and if they aren’t, I cite the source). I don’t mean to be, but honestly I could be because I don’t know how it works. Some of the things we make turn out ugly. I get my math wrong sometimes in my bookkeeping, and might be paying taxes wrong. I read over these posts, but I could still have typos and grammatical errors. But whatever, you know? If something happens, you learn from it and move on.

I hope you learned something through my zig-zag story. If you have a failure story and what you learned from that, please share!

 

~Hannah ❤

Tools & Tips For Staying Organized and Productive (If That’s What You’re Into)

Organization and productivity are, I think, essential to getting things done and staying sane- especially in your craft room/hobby room/drawer of crafty things/sewing kit/fabric drawers/scrapbooking paper boxes/she-shed... I’m always looking for new tools and tips, so I’m going to share a few of my own.

CANVA Tips & Tools

Hi y’all! Today’s post really has nothing to do with crafts or markets or anything “fun,” but it does have a bit to do with business and basically life in general. Today I wanted to share some tools and tips on getting organized and staying productive. These are things I’m always looking up, so I thought I could share what I’ve learned works best for me. Like the Internet needs more information.

I have always been an organized person: to-do lists, color-coded closets, bed made every morning. The whole nine yards, okay?

If I do have a mess or get scatter-brained, it’s because I’ve got so many projects going on. A pile of scrapbook paper here, a can of spray paint without the lid there, my hot glue gun heating up elsewhere, while my iron is still too hot to put back up.

So hopefully we can all get out S*** together, together. 🙂

 

Ideas for sorting out what needs to be done:

  • To-Do lists with pen and paper

Everyone is so digital these days. Hell, I am pretty digital myself. I’ve also got an old soul that loves the feeling of putting pen to paper, physically organizing my thoughts, and literally crossing them out of my day. I feel accomplished that way. If you’re a tactile person like me, make lists, follow the lists, and kick that list’s ass.

tools I use- paper to do.JPG

This is one of my to-do lists, complete with homework, work schedule, bills that need to be paid, and around-the-house things.

 

  • Momentum dash

Digital. Some of us are into that, and sometimes, as I said, I can be, which is why I downloaded Momentum Dash. It’s a browser setting that basically keeps you on top of things with its to-do lists and inspirational quotes that pop up every time you open up a new tab. I keep all of my computer to-dos on Momentum, for obvious reasons, but you can keep everything on there, if you’re looking at your screen a lot. With it’s constant presence, there’s no escaping your tasks.

Screenshot (2).png

This is a screenshot of my own dash. I didn’t enter in a main focus for the day, but I did have a running to-do list of all my online things: homework, things to print, etc.

 

  • Planner (actual paper)

Welcome paper back to the scene. I live by my planner(s). I have my planner that I keep in my backpack. It is marked with different colored pens and markers, stickers, highlights, boxes and circles, arrows, sticky notes, and folded up lists, as well as notes in the margins. Everything is there. Then I have a baby pocket planner for my business. I use it to mark down making days, market days, tax deadlines, and to record ideas for the month. I also have a separate list for my business to-dos and ideas. Lastly, I have a big calendar on my wall, which is mostly to lay out big-picture things, keep track of the day, and add a little something to my kitchen. My calendar for 2017 is Peanuts!

 

 

  • Calendar on my phone WITH alerts

If it’s important, like very important, it goes in my iPhone’s calendar. It doesn’t just go in, either; it gets two alerts. Some events get a two-hours before and day-before, some get day-before and week-before. Doesn’t matter- I must get reminded, even if I already remember.

tools as well

 

  • Notes on my phone

Back to digital again. I use notes on my phone all the time, but not for super serious things. I utilize it in emergencies (as in I have an idea and have to get it written) or for lists that never end (such as my wishlist). Of course, you’ve got to back it up. Apple can really piss me off and confuse me, but that iCloud can be a blessing. Use it!!

for tools

Notice the random notes: Grocery list, class schedule, Christmas ideas for the family, business to-do’s, and some amount of money that I either owed or spent and needed to write into my budget. 

The trick is just to make sure they all match up. Because then you’ve just got an even bigger mess.

 

So now everything you need to do has a place on a list, on a day. Next it’s just organizing all the crap.

  • Clear boxes (preferably with labels), filled by category

If you have a lot of something, it needs a rightful place. For me, that was all my scrapbooking stuff. I have a lot of paper, stickers, and more, so to keep it all together, I got it its own box from Dollar General. It’s clear, so I can see what’s in it, and it’s also as small as possible, so that it’s easy to store.

IMG_9698

 

  • Baskets/Crates with sections (for utensils and whatnot)

These help keep little things separate from one another. I use mine to separate my sticky notes from my paper clips from my pens/pencils from my markers. They are all things I use almost daily, but prevent me from having a big ugly box of crayons, you know?

IMG_9702

 

  • Labeled baggies for loose objects 

I use Ziplocs to organize my scrapbooking stickers. I have categorized by theme: letters/numbers, special occasions, holidays, quotes. etc. Like the dividing baskets, it keeps things separate so that buttons don’t get lost in the marbles, and alphabet stickers don’t get stuck to the Christmas ones.

IMG_9699

 

  • Distinct bags/boxes for projects currently underway

This can get kinda messy, but if you do it right, it makes a world of difference. I use cute canvas bags to organize projects. I have one that holds my scrapbooking supplies for one scrapbook, one for business stuff (for example, it holds my zip ties, whole punch, price tag paper, receipt book, etc.), and one that hangs out for default projects. I keep them under my table or in a cabinet, but they could essentially be hung or stored anywhere. A cute box would work, too!

 

Of course all of this only works if you put everything back where it’s supposed to go.

 

 

Other ways to keep it together, crafting or not:

  • Planning meals

I don’t map out every meal and snack for the entire month on a calendar. That’s too hardcore for me (kudos to you if that’s how you roll), but I do plan out what I can eat for the week. I look at my pantry and freezer to first see what I have already. I try to figure out two or three dishes with food that I already have stocked up, which reminds me: every so often (say, month or two), stock up on everything: broths, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, soups, spices, pasta, sauces, baking supplies, meat, etc. That way, when you’re in a pinch, you can whip something together. Once you have an idea of what you can make for the week, you can either make-ahead or write out when you’ll cook it. I recommend cooking back-to-back, then alternating leftovers for the rest of the week.

tools I use- meal planning ish

 

  • As-you-go grocery (or supplies!) list

As things go missing, write them down. There are few things worse than going to the store and forgetting something you need because you forgot to write it down. I use a notepad in my kitchen to keep track of things as I run out. As soon as I drink that last glass of milk, I write it down. Once it gets long enough, I rearrange it in the order that I’d get it at the store (too much maybe?) and then go shopping- probably every two weeks.

Run out of hot glue? A certain color of yarn? Write it down asap.

Tip: Use Ibotta! Ibotta is a cashback app that my cousin recommended to me. You browse the app looking for rebates, click on the ones you want, and then redeem them by scanning your receipt after your grocery trip. I’ve collected over $40 in rebates! Don’t forget coupons, either. I particularly like HEB’s digital coupons.

IMG_9697

Use referral code: fkertsn

 

  • Making the bed

Make your bed every morning, folks. Some people think it’s stupid, but I don’t. It helps establish routine. It keeps things tidy. If you don’t do a damn thing that day, you can at least say your bed is made. It’s like a domino effect: you make your bed, then you leave on time. You leave on time, you feel good, and you do more work. You get more work done during the day, and your evening is free. You use that time to make a kick-ass supper. You’re so proud you don’t mind the dishes. Then at the end of the day, you’re happily exhausted and get a great night’s sleep in your nicely made bed. Repeat.

 

  • Setting out the next day’s clothes

It’s simple- one less thing to think about when you wake up the next morning. You aren’t spending time figuring it out either. Less fuss in the morning is always a good thing.

 

  • Monthly budget

There are so many ways to track your spending, like making a spreadsheet or doing the priority chart. I’m not here to tell you how to do it. I am telling you to just do it. It’s so important to know the state of your finances. You should know how much you’re spending a month, how much you need to spend, how much income you’re bringing in, what that ratio is, and if/how you’re saving. That last one is the most important. As humans, we’re good at figuring out the immediate future, but we have a difficult time envisioning the long-term. That’s why it’s so important to save, save, save. You may not know what your future holds, but at least you’ll have the money to pay for it, right? Retirement, travel, education, a new house… they all could be in our futures (whether we know it or not), and they all cost money- you can bank on that.

Not very good if you’re going to Hobby Lobby though…

tools I use budget landscape

I keep my budget in my planner because it’s one place that I check everyday. It doesn’t replace checking my actual bank account, but it helps keep me on point.

  • Working Out

Don’t groan on me. I’m not saying the secret to productivity is running a marathon. The secret is staying healthy, strong, and energized. You can achieve health, strength, and energy by exercising regularly. I balance running (when I’m not training), strength training, yoga, and outdoor activities like hiking.

Don’t believe me? Here are some interesting articles on exercise and productivity:

https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/exercise-increases-productivity/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/422836-how-does-exercise-improve-work-productivity/

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/281418

 

The last tools I want to touch on are ones I have never used before, which is why they weren’t on my list, but that I want to use because I have heard great things. These are for my fellow crafty friends who make money on their own. Y’all might be interested!

The first is Freshbooks. It’s an accounting software for small businesses and entrepreneurs. I want to use it eventually, as my business grows a bit more.

The second is Asana, a scheduling program. It’s more for teams, I think, but many people use it like I use pen and paper.

 

All of this is information is to find what works for you, so I hope I could have been a little bit of a help!

 

Thank you and many blessings to all,

 

~Hannah ❤

 

Stadium to Momento

Behind the Boards.png

In May of this year, the Ganado Stadium was demolished to make way for a brand-new one, complete with metal bleachers and a turf field.

I don’t know how long that old stadium, with it’s wooden bleachers and grassy field that was always a little too dry, was there before, but it was a long time. Throughout those years, hundreds, if not thousands, of people made memories and connections to this field.

Football players of all ages, cheerleaders and mascots, band nerds, runners, jumpers, coaches, sponsors, parents and grandparents, newspaper journalists, maintenance workers and landscapers, volunteers, burger masters, out-of-town spectators, and so many others have ties to this place.

So when it went down, we made sure it wasn’t forgotten.

 

Before and after the demolition that took place May 2018.

A few days after it happened, my dad called me saying he loaded up an entire trailer with the scrap wood from the bleachers. After all, it’s just sitting there. It doesn’t surprise me that the workers just left the wood in a massive pile to rot, but I was a little surprised to hear my dad rattle off all kinds of ideas to turn this wood into treasure.

IMG_0723.JPG

This was our chunk of the bleachers, and to think, this is hardly a fraction of what’s still just sitting up there!

We ended up coming up with a little project that was both personal and meaningful, while not being too personal and custom that we were able to make a bunch of people happy in a short amount of time. That project? Picture boards:

 

I cut the long stadium seats into roughly 12″ x 12″ (some pieces are a bit longer, some boards are two inches thick, some are one inch… they’re all different, just like our memories there). Next I sanded the edges to get rid of any jagged edges and to smooth it out a touch, and then I took a wire brush to it to take off a bunch of the dirt and saw dust.

The first ones I made are the ones on the left that keep the natural wood as the background. I used my Cricut to cut the arrows and tee-pees out of white cardstock (my own designs, which you can buy on Etsy. See the Digital Designs tab above.) To get them on smoothly, I used Mod Podge. To complete the front, I glued two small clothes pins, so people can hang two pictures, newspaper clippings, programs, or whatever they want to on the stadium seat. Lastly, I attached a small baggie that contained one sawtooth hanger and some nails so that people can install it portrait or landscape (graphics allowing) and a small tag that reads “Ganado Stadium ~2018~”

The next round was to use up the handful of white ones that I’d made originally that didn’t sell too hot. To make these, I started off the same way of course: cut, sand, brush off. Then I took chalk paint (because of its matte finish) and brushed on an uneven, shabby coat. Then I cut out the maroon arrows and a maroon “G,” as our colors are maroon and white, and Mod Podged them onto the front. Lastly, I attached the clothespins, hangers, and tags.

So far, they’ve been selling like hotcakes, and I’m so super thrilled about it! I know how it feels to have a little piece of your memory like that; I’m an avid NASCAR fan and when Daytona was repaved a few years back, my mom got me a piece of the track with a little certificate of authenticity and everything. I’d never been to Daytona, but I had a huge appreciation and respect for that track. I’m honored to own a piece of history, and I know that everyone who has a stadium seat feels the same way. It’s a part of our history.

 

I have my own memories there, and plenty of them (not all of them good either!)

I was drum major of our marching band for three years. I have spent countless hours conducting in those bleachers, yelling at people who did stupid stuff, and laughing with all my band nerds whom I loved dearly. The best band memory was my sophomore year. The show was tropical themed, so thanks to me, my co-drum major, two band directors, and I wore these towering flamingo hats. Best show ever.

I ran track there for a couple years, too, even though I wasn’t very good. I think I ran my record mile time here, though.

Heck, even if you didn’t run track, every Ganado athlete has died on this track and in these bleachers: sprints, burpees, gassers, Monday Miles, bleachers, and power laps.

The power lap… For those who missed out on those good old days, it’s where you started outside the gate of the track and ran around it, up and down all the sections of the home stands, went back onto the track behind the scoreboard, then up and down all the sections of the visitor stands. Fun stuff.

Seriously though, it wasn’t all that bad. Point is, so many of us have sweat, cried, bled (I literally saw a guy’s foot go through one of the bleacher seats, which explains why we’re getting a new one), laughed, lost, and won in this stadium.

 

So I posted this on Facebook for a reason…

I usually don’t share my blog posts on Facebook, but I did today in the hopes that my Ganado people will read this and share their memories of the stadium in the comments, either on the website or on Facebook.

Since selling these, I’ve already had a couple people share their stories with me, and I love them. I just love them! Especially the ones from back in the day, when it was just a different time.

So please, if you’d like, tell us your story! Mine’s flamingo hats and broken steps. What’s yours?

Crafty, Nifty Content for Discontented Crafters

For when you need to get your gears turning…

 

For the crafty folks out there…

  • Country Living Magazine

I don’t read it often, but when I do, I get so many ideas. It’s great. It has craft ideas, decoration ideas, food, stories- everything I love. If I weren’t a student on a budget I would totally subscribe. If you aren’t subscribed already, or just want to browse every now and then, click here.

54eb9945ebb1b_-_first-mag-lgn

  • Pinterest (duh?)

Pinterest is an Internet safe haven. For me, it is nothing but crafts, nice quotes, pretty pictures, decorating ideas, and recipes. It’s where I go for inspiration, thoughtless entertainment, and help around the house. When it doubt, don’t Google- Pinterest.

That reminds me… if you don’t already, follow us on Pinterest at Making With Texas!

 

  • I Love Texas on Facebook

They aren’t as crafty, but they have lots of stuff on their page. Several of my friends on Facebook follow it, including myself , obviously. They have history, tourist destinations, jokes, pretty pictures, and more. It’s a fun page to scroll through to plan vacations, have a laugh, or whatever. It’s just fun!

i love tx

 

 

For my friends who do markets and have other personal business ventures like that, this is for you. Not much to do with crafting, but with how to sell your crafts!

  • Being Boss Podcast

EMILY AND KATHLEEN

This is a podcast for creative entrepreneurs (in fact, those are the exact words they use when introducing the show every episode) hosted by Emily Thompson, web developer and owner of Indie Shopography, and Kathleen Shannon, branding expert and co-owner of Braid Creative. I love it so much! Every episode addresses some sort of business- or self-care-related topic, from broad topics like fear to very specific ones like SEO-optimization. As a bonus, the hosts are hilarious.

Find them on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts and at beingboss.club

 

 

  • Girlboss Media

download

I have listened to the podcast GIrlboss Radio for a year now, but the new version just came out at the end of summer 2017. The podcast is hosted by Sophia Amoruso, the CEO of Girlboss Media and former CEO of Nasty Gal. Her podcast began as a more business-centered podcast and has evolved into more of a female-empowerment podcast, which is cool. Her media company, Girlboss Media, has grown into a site full of articles about women, business, beauty, self-care, and so much more. She and her team usually have some pretty solid content, however, I don’t necessarily agree with all of it. But, in Girlboss’s defense, that’s the exact sort of content they should be publishing, based on their audience. I know that going in, so if I read an article that advocates for something against my beliefs, I get over it and read something else that I will enjoy.

 

Where do y’all go for entertainment, news, and more?

 

Best,

~Hannah ❤

 

***Images/logos are not mine. I don’t own them or have any part in them whatsoever, nor did I in anyway edit or change them. I just wanted some visuals for readers , visuals that I myself could not just “get.” I found them from the following sites via Google Image search:

COUNTRY LIVING: http://www.countryliving.com/life/a5634/editors-letter-rachel-hardage-barrett/

I LOVE TEXAS: https://www.facebook.com/ilovethegreatstateoftexas/

BEING BOSS: https://beingboss.club/

GIRLBOSS MEDIA: https://www.girlboss.com/

Top 5 Texas Hill Country State Parks & Natural Areas

My favorite  outdoors-y spots in the Hill Country, just in time for summer.

Top 5 Texas Hill Country.png

The family and I love being outside, whether it be fishing at the river, sitting by the fire in our backyard, or hiking in New Mexico.

Since I go to school in Austin, I take advantage of the nearby Hill Country to go hiking and sightseeing at the numerous state parks and natural areas. I never get bored looking at the limestone, little critters running around, and clear waters. I think Texas is beautiful, and I’m glad we have so many preserved natural areas.

I like to think I’ve been to enough parks now that I am somewhat credible when it comes to recommendations, so just in time for summer, I made a short list of my favorite places. I ranked them based on how unique their attractions are, the abundance of activities in the park, and things to do outside the park in surrounding cities.

5. Jacob’s Well

Wimberly, Texas

Fees: free to look, $9 to swim

jacob's well

Jacob’s Well is a fully submerged cave in Cypress Creek, which flows through the quaint town of Wimberly, just west of San Marcos, and feeds into the Blanco River. It serves as a spring, pumping out thousands of gallons of water every day at 68 degrees. As far as we’re concerned, it serves as a swimming hole!

It’s a truly fascinating place. It’s crazy to imagine that this pit (an over 1,000 foot cavern!) just formed naturally and so beautifully.

Besides swimming and sunbathing, there isn’t anything else to do at Jacob’s Well, which is why I put it at number five, but as I said, it is in Wimberly. In the little town is the cutest, most bustling town square with shops, restaurants, activities, and not far from downtown, a replica pioneer town. If Wimberly ins’t your thing, not far is San Marcos, with the San Marcos River, a huge outlet mall, and more. Up the interstate from San Marcos is Austin, which is a world of fun in its own right.

Also not far from Jacob’s Well is Hamilton Pool. It’s also another natural swimming hole- quite breathtaking. I kept it off the list for a couple reasons. One, it’s almost twice as much per person than Jacob’s Well. It’s also farther away from towns; Bee Cave (a town incorporated as a part of way, way west Austin) is about twenty minutes, Austin itself is another twenty or thirty, Dripping Springs is twenty or thirty, and the next closest town is probably Johnson City, unless you want to count Round Mountain, which is more of a community than a city. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to Hamilton Pool though!!!

 

4. Hill Country State Natural Area

Bandera, Texas

Fees: $6/person, children 12 and under- free

This is my favorite, despite it being at number four. It’s my favorite because it’s so big, so free and rugged, and is in Bandera, which is one of my favorite towns in the world. It has forty miles of trails for hiking, biking, and even equestrian use. The trails are of various difficulties, from easy walks to challenging climbs. Camping is also available.

These are the pretty much the only activities, but for me, that’s enough. Forty miles of hiking and sightseeing. That’s enough to make me happy. Throw in how open it is and how relatively few people (in my experience) are there, it’s the perfect getaway.

As mentioned, it’s located near Bandera. Bandera is a very western town, embracing the cowboy culture. I love it. There are so many shops, events, and restaurants (my favorite is O.S.T.) to keep you busy. Also not far (okay, it’s a little bit of a drive but not really) is the Frio River. It is a Texas favorite. I go float it every year!

 

3. Enchanted Rock

Fredericksburg, Texas

Fees: $7/person, children 12 and under- free

My pictures don’t do it justice. Enchanted Rock is a massive limestone rock north of Fredericksburg and south of Llano. It’s a truly majestic sight. Majestic. Seeing such a huge, natural structure is astounding and even humbling.

Warning- it’s a climb. I’m pretty in shape and workout frequently, and I even had to take a second to catch my breath. Once you get to the top though, it makes it all worth it. Seeing Texas unfold before you for miles and miles is awe-inspiring.

Nearby is Fredericksburg with its unlimited entertainment and experiences. The shops downtown offer a wide variety of goods, from jellies to clothes to quilts to jewelry to bath bombs to books. There’s of course the prominent German culture there, so you have your choice of German cuisine. If you’re there at the right time, you could head out on 290 to the Market Days- three days of antiquing, junking, and shopping. Even if there is no market, head out on 290 anyway and hang a right to spend time in Luckenbach. No matter which direction you head in, you’ll for sure stumble across a winery.

If you go the other way towards Llano, you’ll be pleased. The drive is lovely and Llano has something to offer as well. They have a cute downtown, with a multitude of shops, and it is home to one of my favorite restaurants- Cooper’s Barbecue.

 

2. Colorado Bend State Park

Bend, Texas

Fees: $5/person, children 12 and under- free

Colorado Bend State Park is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Located south of Lampasas and San Saba, west of Cherokee, and north of Llano, this over-5,000 acre park is home to Gorman Falls. It’s a sixty-foot, natural, “living” waterfall. It took centuries to form. The groundwater underground is dissolving the limestone. The dissolved limestone comes up to the surface where the calcite gets deposited. This is called Travertine. Because it’s so rich in nutrients and good stuff, that green cascading vegetation is able to grow.

Gorman Falls transported me to a fairy land. It’s gorgeous! It’s so hard to believe such a thing is even real. It’s pretty treacherous to get to, too.

colorado bend (2)

You’ve got to scale down these rocks to get to the falls. It’s worth it, but also quite intimidating!

Besides Gorman Falls, Colorado Bend State Park has plenty to do, including camping, fishing, paddling, cave exploration, swimming, biking, and hiking. The park has 35 miles of hike and bike trails. I only managed to hike 6 when I was there.

In terms of things to do beyond the park, there isn’t a great deal. At least nothing in close proximity. Llano is nearby. Cherokee is a small community close by as well, with a tempting barbecue joint in a barn. You could also drive up to Lampasas or San Saba, both twenty-thirty miles from Bend. If you’re feeling adventurous, Austin is about two hours. In my opinion, however, I think the park offers plenty to do that you could spend at least a weekend seeing new things and doing numerous activities.

 

  1. Pedernales Falls State Park

Johnson City, Texas

Fees: $6/person, children 12 and under- free

pedernales (2)

I love this park so much. It was one of the first parks I visited up here. It’s only about 30 miles west of Austin, and a hop, skip, and a jump from Dripping Springs and Johnson City.

The park is centered around the Pedernales River and displays the breath-taking Pedernales Falls. No, it’s not a sixty-foot waterfall, but it’s a vast landscape of limestone pits and crevices, where the cold clear water rushes, flows, and makes its way downstream. It’s one of the most unique things I’ve ever seen, natural or otherwise. I’ve been to Europe, so that’s saying something.

The park has so much to do. They have around 20 miles of hike, bike, and equestrian trails. There’s even a trail where you have to cross the river, without a bridge. You’ve actually got to take off your shoes (or not, I guess) and wade across. It was fun! They also have places for swimming, paddling, and camping.

pedernales (1)

 

Get out there! Happy hiking, biking, riding, swimming, kayaking, or camping. May you revel in the beauty of the Texas Hill Country!

Be safe and have a great summer!

 

~Hannah ❤

 

Sources:

http://www.co.hays.tx.us/jwna.aspx

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/hill-country

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/enchanted-rock

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/colorado-bend

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/pedernales-falls

 

All photos in this post are mine. If used, I and/or this site must be given credit.

It’s Small Business Week!

It's Small Business Week.png

This week is all about celebrating and supporting local small businesses, as well as giving entrepreneurs a kick in the butt and a pat on the back. Whether you’re a shopper or a dreamer, we have a couple of ideas to help you get in the spirit of Small Business Week.

As for us, we’re going to be celebrating Small Business Week by talking about Small Business Week. I know I’d be nowhere without the support of others. Yes, they buy my stuff, but they help me build this thing. Just this weekend, three ladies just gave me stuff to help grow my business. Others go out of their way to buy something, driving miles to come pick up something. All the while, folks are texting me ideas, making loving comments on Facebook pictures, or liking my page.

Not just that, but I’ve been employed by two small businesses. Their existence has helped me, well, exist happily and prosperously.

Supporting your small businesses with your wallet and your heart sends out a huge communal ripple effect: they hit their bottom line, you get something unique, you make friends, you employ more friends, and you improve your community as a whole.

So what can you do?

For the shoppers:

Small Business Week is April 30-May 4

 

For the dreamers, who have a creative drive, a desire to take control, who march to the beat of their own drum:

Small Business Week is April 30-May 4 (1)

 

For stats and information on just how big a deal small businesses are, go to the Small Business Association site.

 

Thanks to all who are supporting small businesses and best of luck to those wanting to start one!

Bless!

~H

My Coast

This is “Making With Texas,” so I am going to talk more about my Texas. Think of this as a travel piece, if you will, because by the end, you’ll want to come to the Coastal Bend of South Texas.

 

I say in the intro there that this is a travel piece, and in a sense I suppose it is. Mostly, though, I just want to talk about where I grew up. I talk about it a lot in a similar post to this, one that talks about beaches. I didn’t grow up with a beach for a backyard, but I grew up around Matagorda, Port Alto, Magnolia and Indianola, and Olivia. Those weren’t home, either, though. I grew up in Ganado, which is about half an hour from Olivia.

Ganado is small. I graduated with 45 people, which for many people is very tiny, but I wouldn’t want anything else. Our town is so special, too, and I talk about it a lot in another post about the Ganado market.

Ganado was settled in the 1800s along the new railroad. All it had at the time was a bunch of cows, hence its name Ganado, which means “cattle” in Spanish. That said, it does have a large Hispanic population, but a lot of us are Czech or German. It isn’t unusual to hear someone call a beer pivo which is Czech for beer.

In Ganado, we have a bit to do, especially for someone who’s into small town Texas. We have a an old theater that opened in the 1940s, the first in the U.S. to have digital fiber optic sound, and is one of the last to be privately owned.

32234819924_226df85f8c

We have a monthly market, as well as a few shops, like a western wear store and a fabulous quilt shop. There’s a good Mexican restaurant, barbecue joint, burger place, and a little place that sells Blue Bell. Throughout the year we have festivals, like the Chili Spill and Crawfish Festival, complete with a dance and games. There’s Lake Texana, too, if you’re a fisherman or kayaker. If freshwater isn’t your thing, half an hour or so away is bay. You can to Olivia, Port Alto, Port O’Connor, or Port Lavaca, among other places.

Left: Olivia | Right: Lake Texana

There are many other cute towns around, especially if you go farther inland, a little away from the coast: Edna, Victoria (downtown is so old and beautiful), and Cuero, as well as up north into Fayette county. Oh, and you can’t forget Shiner!

 

Okay, so many of those towns are a good hour and a half or so from water, but we’re all close together. In one weekend, you could hit our theater and listening room- the Rear Window, Cuero’s beautiful antique shops and come back for Turkey Fest, Victoria’s downtown (you must drop some cash and eat at the Sendera) and come back for Boot Fest, to Shiner for some beer, then to Flatonia for the Czilispiel and the painted churches.

And all along the way, you’ll see cows and horses, beautiful fields of corn and cotton, green very gently rolling hills or the flat land that leads to the water, old barns, wild flowers, wrap around porches, creeks and rivers, and bails of hay.

It’s not much, but it’s home.

It’s Texas.

It’s who we are.

You’re always welcome!

 

~Hannah ❤

 

***Images/logos are not mine. I don’t own them or have any part in them whatsoever, nor did I in anyway edit or change them. I just wanted some visuals for readers , visuals that I myself could not just “get” at the time of this writing. I found them from the following sites via Google Image search:

LAKE TEXANA:LAKE TEXANA: http://wiseabouttexas.com/texas-towns-texana/lake-texana/
OLIVIA: http://www.texasescapes.com/TexasGulfCoastTowns/OliviaTexas/OliviaTx.htm

THEATER:THEATER: http://www.flickriver.com/places/United+States/Texas/Ganado/