Halloween is nearly upon us and it’s a big holiday in our family. My kids begin discussing costume possibilities in July. This year my son made his proclamation in August, “I want to be Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon“. I start trying to visualize some half-homemade type creations I can bang out for him. Then in September, my daughter’s got her final choice, “I’m going to be Toothless too.” Hmmmm.
“Did you check with your brother?”
“Yup, we are both going to be Toothless.”
“Okay, sounds good”.
Better than good, my job just got easier.
Then both my kids mention they are over trick-or-treating, they just want to hand out candy this year.
WHAT? What kind of children have I raised that running from stranger to stranger and collecting all the contraband I never allow is now passé at the ripe ages of 7 and 9 years old?
So I decide we’ll find a party to attend all together and bring some spark back to this family favorite. But now my husband and I need costumes………
“What if your dad and I also go as Toothless.”
“Oh yeah! This is going to be awesome.”
“Yes, we’ve obviously been working on repopulating the night furies since the last movie came out.” (I think I’m very clever to work this all in).
Kids: Hoodies from Target, Black knee high socks for the tails also from Target, packed the tailed with left over packing materials, I used garbage bags that I cut and sewed for the wings and tails, mask from Etsy.
Parents: Hat found Target, Black dress (old)
One afternoon of sewing and voila, all finished.
We’ll even dress up twice this year thanks to our first “truck or treat”.
Hope everyone has a nice Halloween!
Growing up in a city I associated the word “dirty” with other people’s germs, your shopping cart that’s been touched by 100 other people, that guy who spit a loogie on the park bench, the money the cashier handed back to you – DIRTY. In rural life there’s a whole different kind of dirty, one that’s associated with time outside, hard labor, on-going, never ending projects.
The past few weekends I’ve been able to spend time out in the country doing some hard, dirty work and I’ve found it’s cleansed my soul like nothing else. NOTHING ELSE. More than a bikram yoga class, more than a 5 mile run, more than a hike in the forests of France – pulling on a pair of work gloves and preceding to work until your soaked with sweat seems to be a little recipe for perfect contentment. There’s a satisfaction associated with the piles of your labor, a newly weeded garden, a freshly painted porch, a rebuilt fence that no exercise regimen can compete with. So I’m very excited to announce that my husband and I are embarking on a very dirty project.
Say hello to my husband’s great grandmother’s house. Built in the early 1900’s to stand the tests of time we’ve decided to bring this little beauty back to the land of the living. We’ve got a whisper of a budget and child labor so please don’t expect any Smitten Studio or Young House Love level of documentation or know-how as we undertake this enormous project. But do expect a bit of Green Acres humor such as my son running with complete abandon right in a yellow jacket nest (4 stings later he’s learned how to not run through a field with high brush) or me unearthing a rattlesnake 3 hours into day one of our project though my husband who has spent years in this locale had never seen one venomous snake – Lucky me!
We are sure to gain a few bumps and bruises in the process but I’m hopeful we’ll not only survive but really LIVE! Wish us luck.
My, oh my, it’s a wonderful day today in my part of the world – sun shining, birds chirping, crispness in the air, the kind of day that begs to be lived outside! It’s the kind of day that gets me thinking about Kinfolk, small gatherings with people I love, simple gestures, the balance of work, play, quiet. As I set out to watch one of Kinfolk’s much loved videos, I tripped upon the fun news of Kinfolk launching an apparel company. Fancy that! No more wondering what to wear to your Kinfolk inspired Small Gatherings. Then my eyes slipped to the bottom of the page for more fall inspired fashion and I saw this from Portland Monthly online magazine:
Move over Snuggie, zip on up in The Napsack by Poler Stuff. This thing looks brilliant to me, but I also spend a lot of time figuring out how to wrap blankets around myself and go about my day, something like The Napsack would make perfect sense around a campsite. Can’t you almost feel that fire warming your fingers and toes?
For more outside fun check out these:
Lastly, for an urban jungle mash up, Darling, Be Daring.
The past two weekends my family and I headed out West, some would say WAY out West. About 495 miles from Dallas lies the magical town of Alpine, Texas. Home to Sul Ross University, (which made a cameo in Richard Linklater’s amazing “Boyhood“), 30 miles from mountainous Fort Davis, 30 miles, in the other direction, is Marfa, my beloved Marfa, in another direction for less than 30 miles is Marathon, home of the Gage Hotel but more worth noting, 12 Gage Restaurant. Want more? Alpine is 70 miles from Big Bend National Park, 60 miles to Balmorhea, scuba diving in the desert anyone?? Basically it’s a hub bub of all kinds of goodness, here’s the 800 arrows take on it all.
Where we stayed:
Weekend 1: Air BnB – Casita Velveeta (listing no longer available on Air BnB), in case this place does reappear for rent I wouldn’t recommend it, even at $85.00/night, it felt like we over paid. Our friends stayed here using VRBO and it was lovely! If you don’t want to rent, I would recommend the Guest Lofts from the Holland Hotel, these can get very pricey but start at $125, and for a very simple stay I’d check out Antelope Lodge (starting at $85/night, it’s where I’d like to stay next go around).
Weekend 2: We stayed at the Alpine Rock House, which is a nice part of Alpine (a little farther from the train horns), you can easily walk to Plaine for your coffee or Blue Bell needs. it’s a beautiful house, great for a family but also wonderful if you were traveling with friends, lots of room to spread out. Last word on renting versus a hotel, the kitchen is great to have because while the restaurants left a lot to be desired the natural grocery store is amazing!
Where we ate:
Judy’s Bread and Breakfast is about the only breakfast game into unless you count McDonald’s, which I don’t. It’s not good (yes I even tried the cinnamon roll, I still won’t call it good), but the place and people are great and it’s one of those things that makes Alpine a nice place to live.
Guzzi Up – If you must go here don’t have pizza, I repeat do not have pizza, salads are pretty good. Also unless you love the latest tween rock videos (personally I’m a fan) you may wanted to be seated away from the TV’s, they are huge.
La Trattoria or La Trot (if you’re trying to be a local) – meh.
Reata – Really expensive meh.
Plaine – Sister to Frama in Marfa, this laundry mat, coffee, ice cream bar is awesome-ness.
Little Mexico Cafe – You are better off going hungry. Couldn’t find an online presence for Little Mexico Cafe, but it’s on Murphy Street. Do yourself a favor, keep on walking to Los Jalapenos which was closing as we pulled up but looks very promising!
Blue Water Natural Foods – Not a restaurant, but if you rent a house you can stock up here with most of what you could find at Whole Foods or other natural grocery. Great quality produce, impressive selection overall, it’ll be my FIRST stop to stock up next time we are in Alpine!
12 Gage Restaurant and White Buffalo Bar – You can order from the bar menu while dining at the restaurant. Venison sliders, butternut and apple bisque, the lovely puff pastry below. Wash it all down with Ranch Water (tequila, Topo Chico, lime juice and ice) and enjoy the party!
We didn’t try anything new this time, revisited old favorites, all were good! Food Shark – fatuous salad with hummus and falafel, Frama for chai latte, Maiya’s for a Paloma and ragu (yes it’s $22 for pasta, yes I still think it’s worth it). Sad we couldn’t swing by Museum of Electronic Wonders and late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour but instead we were watching the cool kids at the Trans-Pecos music festival at El Cosmico.
What we did:
Day trips: Lajitas – I’d skip this in the future and would not recommend, basically just a fancy resort in the middle of the desert, food was terrible.
Terlingua – Fun to see this little town, less than an hour outside of Alpine and the drive is spectacular especially if you get a cloudy day bringing a storm like we were lucky enough to witness!
Balmorhea – A Texas State Park with a spring all decked out for swimming, snorkeling and even scuba diving. Depth goes down to about 25 ft, 3 ft being the most shallow. Water was a comfy temp once in but cold enough to put your game face on before jumping. High dive provided fun and loads of entertainment for all the viewers. We headed out before eating but I hear there’s fantastic Mexican food right outside the park (also allows for camping and cabin stay). Insider tip: To get the fish stirred up arm yourself with some cheese crackers and spray cheese – gross yes, but the fish went nuts! To tempt the soft shell turtle “weenies” or hot dogs (are these the same?) work best but watch your fingers while swimming, your little piggies look a lot like weenies too!
Marfa – While Marfa is known for art, food, cool kids, our cool kids love it for the train tracks. While it might not be the kid friendliest place, my kids think Marfa is a treasure trove of “stuff by the train tracks”. We flatten coins, they rock hound, get dusty and dirty, really what’s not to love.
we stopped in at the Trans-Pecos Music Festival happening at El Cosmico and couldn’t take our eyes off of the side show game involving hammers flying into the air, banging an opponents nail into the stump (in the middle of the circle) and lots of hipster watching. Ah, Marfa!
Alpine – We attended an outdoor dinner presented by Times Ten Cellars at their vineyard overlooking Cathedral Mountain. This isn’t a regular happening but we’ll certainly try to make it to these randomly schedules dinners as often as we can.
The west Texas skies were kind enough to provide us with a side show throughout the evening, the sunset, that gave way to the breathtaking scene below all while 5 courses came and went, wine glasses were filled and drained, and prices of Alpine real estate were discussed at every table.
Really you can’t go wrong with a visit to this part of the world. So many things to see and do even if you just sit and watch the sky. Grab your crew, pack up the car and have a nice journey, stretching and napping are encouraged.
One last mention of thanks to my handsome husband, for two amazing weekends and always going above and beyond (including looking after my sun hat long after the sun disappeared). Love rocks.