Texas Swimmin’ Summers

After living in the Bay Area for over 12 years, this summer is the first real hot one I’ve had in over a dozen years. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the weather of San Francisco – most people complain about the fog and constant 55 degree coastal breeze. I miss it very much each and everyday. However, having a summer where I can wear shorts and swim regularly has been a really nice change!

John and I took advantage of the summer sun and swimming whenever we could, and I’m the tannest I’ve been since I was 23. Here is a list of our favorite outdoor activities this season.

  1. East Side Hotel Pool

Day passes to this hip hotel on the East Side are about $40 per person for half day, either 12-4pm or 4-8pm. We decided to stay the night and take full advantage of this pool, so we got a last minute deal on Hotel Tonight for $100 for a badass room and view. Parking was free and we swam both days for only $20 extra of what would have been a half day activity. It was right after we got engaged and felt like continuing to celebrate, and a much better deal IMO. I love this hotel!

2. Lake Travis

Everyone needs to experience a boat day at Lake Travis at least ONCE throughout their life! I remember doing party boats back in the day when I was a college student at UT. This summer our pals rented out a lake house with a view from AirBnb for the month of June. We had lovely swimming day together where I got completely burnt for the first time in YEARS. Definitely make friends with the neighbors – they gave us a free evening boat ride to catch the sunset!

3. Barton Creek Greenbelt

Although I lived in Austin throughout the 00’s while in college, I never swam in the Greenbelt! HOW is this possible?! Most of the time I was too busy with school or work, or it was super dry without much water. This summer we finally made it happen and it was awesome! John loved it and had never experienced anything like this natural wonder out in CA (though there’s lots of swimming holes outside of Sacramento close to Auburn!)

4. Tubing the Guadalupe Horseshoe Bend

In central Texas, you TUBE in the summer. I grew up tubing the Guadalupe horseshoe regularly. My dad wrote a murder mystery eco-thriller about a death along the river when I was in high school. I took John on this river trip the first time he came to Texas back in 2014, but we haven’t been since. We decided to go with our friends Jen and Ian who we regularly explore with one Saturday afternoon. It was so crowded! The water was pretty low and took us about 2 hours to float the shoe. The part that always bothers me is getting stuck in a whirlpool while the rest of your party swirls past you, but luckily it’s pretty quick. Also when the water is low your butt hits the rocks so it’s great to have a tube with a hard bottom.

I still laugh about our first trip down the river; we recently visited Shiner brewery and John wore a Shiner trucker hat he purchased. With a 6 pack of Lonestar in tow, some dudes who tubed next to us took one look at John and said “That man there- this isn’t his first rodeo! He’s a true Texan” – and I corrected them and said “Actually it IS his first rodeo, and he’s from San Francisco!” – the LOOK on their faces was priceless. But John is great like that – he fits in wherever he goes ❀

5. Barton Springs Pool

Barton Springs is THEE quintessential natural pool in Austin. There is a small fee to enter the park but there is a “free” side on the other side of the barrier where folks bring their dogs, coolers, and party. The natural pool has tons of algae so it’s a bit slippery and some adjustment if you aren’t used to it, but the cold refreshing water in a unique setting is beautiful and a great experience! Plus you can canoe or kayak out into Town Lake.

6. Port Aransas Beach

We originally got the cutest Airbnb in Port Aransas for John and I’s birthday week this past February, but decided to postpone until summer to celebrate my sister Bryana’s birthday instead and take full advantage of summer activites. This was the ultimate place to stay not far from the water, with a private pool and John and I had our own private suite!

It was so fun! I enjoyed getting in the pool multiple times a day – I was so incredibly tan after this trip and all the other swimming outings we’ve had. We had our own private golf cart that we drove all around the island which was fun and something I’ve never done before. It had a lot of Weekend at Bernie’s vibes.

I remember going to this shark beach tourist store when I was a kid, so naturally my sister and I had to get a pic.

This was also John’s first true beach weekend in warm water. Every time I’ve tried to take him to the beach in the past my family has stepped in and said he wouldn’t like it because he’s from California and the Pacific Ocean is gorgeous (which it IS). But the gulf also has its own natural beauty as well!

Also there was a school of baby crabs that floated in the water and freaked out my niece, it was super bizarre. We had a lot of fun with our family making memories!

7. Austin Motel Pool

I’ve never swam at the pool at Austin Motel but we bought passes for the Purple Rain night and it was adorable! They also have evenings where they show movies and you can float in the pool all night. It’s definitely something you need to get in advance because of the size (especially during COVID).

As summer 2021 comes to a close, I’m very thankful for creating new memories with John and our family and friends. I admit I can’t wait for the fall weather and we all know that Halloween is my favorite! I’m already planning for our Halloween costume reveal πŸ™‚

We’re Engaged!

On our 8th anniversary of our first date, John and I got engaged!

I sorta had a feeling something was different when John decided to plan a weekend getaway for our anniversary, the weekend after we came home from New Orleans. I am the planner in this household – not because I have control issues, but John doesn’t really have strong opinions about where we stay or what we do, he’s so open and go with the flow. Someone has to plan! And it *normally* ain’t him… πŸ˜‰

He booked us this beautiful remote cabin in the countryside of Wimberley, TX. If you aren’t familiar, Wimberley is a very cute artsy small town between Austin and New Braunfels located on the river with the most gorgeous scenery. A lot of people get married here or come for the big flea markets or antique shopping or craft fairs. It’s a sweetie place and super unique.

The first night we decided to head down to Gruene for dinner and drinks at Gruene Hall. This was the first place I took John to when he came to Texas to meet my family way back in 2014, we floated the river here, and we have fond memories. We initially talked about floating the river that weekend but we had so much rain that I didn’t feel safe (and it was overcast the entire time!).

After wining and dining in Gruene and shopping at the general store (where we got THEE CUTEST ornament of Gruene Hall – yes I am obsessed with Christmas tree ornaments) we opted to head home to enjoy our cabin. It was already getting late and more rain was en route. I had Google maps take us the most direct way back through the back roads which was entirely pitch black! If you are familiar with the weather in Texas you know that it can flash flood at a moments notice. We were about 5 minutes from the house and our last crossing was “Slime Bridge” – and we couldn’t cross at all! After getting out of the car to look at the water directly in front of our car (which I can see how other cars can get swept away!) we decided to turn around and head back a different way – which was another 40 minutes! On the flip side, John became obsessed with this bridge and loved that we crossed paths, who names a bridge “Slime Bridge”?!

This is Slime Bridge on a “normal” rainy day. We were driving in heavy rain after it had rained for weeks straight! There was NO WAY we were going to cross this path.

After safely returning to our cabin, we enjoyed some wine in the hot tub before watching a documentary on Roku about pasta. Named, The Shape of Pasta, Chef Evan Funke visits small towns in Italy and receives training from Nonnas on how to create the town pasta shape. He provides a thorough history lesson into each shape and brings them all back to his award winning restaurant, Felix, in Los Angeles. I love pasta so much I was purely fascinated by this! (AND – the next time I’m in LA I am eating at Felix!!!)

The next morning, we enjoyed our coffee in the hot tub, got ready for our day, and headed out for lunch when…John proposed! He tricked me into thinking that we were taking a timed selfie under the Live Oak tree, when he set it up as a video. So here I am, posing, asking how many seconds we have until the timer goes off….when John got down on one knee. While the video is ours and we are not making it public (not even with our family), I will share he did say that he loved me an incredible amount and couldn’t imagine life without me. It was very sweet and totally caught me off guard in the moment.

The ring is custom made from Avant Garde. John brought them his family diamonds, passed down from his mom (jewels from his Grandmother’s side of the family, some as old as the late 1800’s!). I love that it is a modern take on a vintage look. It’s totally me!

It felt like an out of body experience! We didn’t know what to do but we were hungry, so we went over to Creekside Cookers for BBQ and beers to celebrate. Afterwards, we went back to the cabin to drink champagne on the wrap around porch that John was saving. It was so sweet and special. We decided immediately that we didn’t want to tell anyone or talk to family for a full 24 hours so we could be with each other and soak it all in. Ahhh take me back…

A celebratory feast for two.

After basking in each other’s love and arms for the afternoon, we got dolled up and headed to Trattoria Lisina for drinks and pasta. I felt so beautiful! We had so much fun at this cutesy spot. And we decided we would get very small matching pasta tattoos! And that we wanted to visit Italy during our honeymoon (at least part of it πŸ™‚ )

Our final day together before we broke the news to our family and friends was spent in downtown Wimberley walking along the river, having brunch at Ino’z, and doing some shopping.

We literally stared at the cabin with precious memories in our hearts, kissed, and parted ways to tell our families the news! John shared with me that he actually called my dad before our trip to ask his permission, which of course he said yes, and then told him not to share with anyone else. So when we called all of my sisters – they 100% had no idea and were all shocked! Everyone was thrilled for us, and in just a few short weeks we would be in California to celebrate with John’s family and our friends in SF! While I am not a super traditional person, my entire family is so it was nice to see that John talked to my dad beforehand.

A few days later my parents came into town to take us to dinner at Eberly and gave us beautiful crystal champagne flutes. We had champagne FOR DAYSSSS ❀

John and I were never in a rush to get married but we always knew it would happen for us someday. We are not having our own children. We plan on being together as a couple and should years down the road we want to adopt, we will cross that path. I have never felt that biological clock ticking and do not feel the pressure that I know so many of my friends have in regards to having kids before a certain age. Because of this, we were always happy being together no matter what “status” we were. Honestly we are sorta married in a way because we are already registered domestic partners in the state of California (this happened last year, when I lost my job due to COVID and got on John’s insurance). We are just happy to have found each other – where we can completely be ourselves. There’s never been any games or drama, we just are who we are. I am so happy to have met John, he is the perfect yin to my yang and we make a good team! I can’t wait to see what adventures life brings us together.

We are currently planning our wedding for next summer in Carmel Valley, CA. We are excited! And enjoying every moment.

New Orleans Roadtrip, May 2021

I absolutely love visiting New Orleans! The culture and vibe of the people, food, and place make it all so unique and enthralling compared to the day to day of other cities in the US. Every time I go I learn something new, connect with something or someone different, and dive even deeper into the cultural melting pot of the south.

Since we’ve been in COVID over a year John and I decided to do a roadtrip from Austin, stopping in Houston to stay at my sister’s place, and continuing onto NOLA to basically eat ourselves to death. We’ve done the drive before and while although parts can be so unbearable, it’s much cheaper than flying. True story flights were $600 roundtrip when I checked out of ATX! Plus, the drive reminds us of True Detective Season 1 so we rewatched it prior to our trip for inspiration.

We went over Memorial Day weekend since we had an extra day built in, so we knew this was going to be a short trip. We loved staying over in the Irish Channel by the Garden District when we visited in 2016, so we opted for an Airbnb in the same area.

First thing first we hit up Mahoney’s on Magazine Street for some delish po-boys. I am not normally a po-boy type, but when I want one I want it while I’m in NOLA. The crispy crunchy shrimp with the fixins and soft bread with hot sauce and mayo. It’s amazing and trust me on this – this is one thing you need to try when you are there!

We then headed over to Frenchman Street once things started opening up around 5pm for early drinks before getting too crowded. We are fully vaccinated but most people in NOLA don’t wear masks, so we wanted to have time before things there got real crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the debauchery of my 20s and drunken nights in NOLA – but not this trip! We were going for a more casual day drinking vibe with chill nights at nice restaurants.

Maybe I’m older or maybe the pandemic had me feeling safe and sound in my clean home, away from all the germs, being around people felt super weird! Isn’t it strange the things we did all of the time before that feel dangerous now? Blowing out candles on a birthday cake that will be shared with others, working out in a gym and sharing weights, riding public transportation and holding onto the rail. It made being in the Frenchman district feel super adventurous!

After an interesting happy hour with a full cop arrest and intervention on the sidewalk, we walked through the art market, bought a few unique items, and then walked across the French quarter, window shopping along the way.

We made our way towards Lafayette park in the Warehouse district for dinner at Sofia, voted best new Italian restaurant of 2019. It didn’t look like much online or once we got there, as it’s more casual, but let me tell you this was the best pasta we’ve had in ages!

We still talk about how good Sofia was to this day! I haven’t yet found my place in Austin with delish fresh pasta that is to die for. But until then I’ll keep searching for the perfect noodle…

Afterwards we walked through Lafayette Park (which I had never done before) and snapped the most beautiful spooky shots. I love the mystery and magic of NOLA each and every time I visit. I always do a ghost or voodoo tour, but we didn’t have the time this go-around. But NOLA is so spooky you don’t even need to go on a tour to feel how vibrantly haunted it is.

Afterwards we went to this snazzy little cocktail bar + lounge called Bar Marilou and it was the cutest lil spot! Due to COVID you had to make reservations in advance for limited capacity inside. I’m so glad we did this because this was one of the coolest NOLA bars I’ve ever been to. We got caviar and enjoyed the end of our day of driving and exploration before heading back towards Magazine Street.

After a long night of good rest we were pumped for a whole day of exploration in the Big Easy. We walked through the Garden District to admire the beautiful homes. Every time I’m in the area and see them I think about Anne Rice and Interview with the Vampire. She lived in the Garden District for a long time and then moved to San Francisco. And also – Interview with the Vampire was filmed in both locations! She must be a really neat lady. I love thinking about what a conversation with her would entail!

Obsessed with this rhinestone fringe bandana from Gato Denim.

It was a hot day and many people were out and about. I initially wanted to go to Cafe Du Monde for beignets but the line was outrageous (and I mean, OUTRAGEOUS), so we checked out the view and decided to save the beignets for later.

The first thing we did was get a decent brunch in the French Quarter followed with a visit to the Museum of Death. I had heard about it and thought it sounded interesting, as you know I’m a huge fan of true crime documentaries. A good friend of mine created the Netflix docu-series about Henry Lee Lucas (The Confession Killer) and I knew there would be some weird gems inside that I had to share!

The Museum of Death was a bit more of a roadside attraction than I thought it would be. They did have some cool original artworks from murderers on death row, and more detailed information/police composite sketches/crime scene details that were interesting, but they also had a lot of campy stuff in poor taste that felt a bit strange. All in all it was $15, but it’s not someplace I would visit again.

Walking around Bourbon was so weird on a Sunday mid day, because it wasn’t really all that busy. We were able to walk right into the historic Pat O’Briens for a super-duper strong hurricane.

Of course, we explored all of the French Quarter, even walking by the infamous haunted LeLaurie mansion!

I love the architecture of old New Orleans. So much rich culture and history. It was founded by prostitutes and thieves from France and also burned down twice 6 years apart! So much mysticism exists it permeates from everything you come across.

We drank along our route in the French Quarter, as one does, exploring and shopping throughout the niche NOLA markets. We tried to get beignets several times but it just wasn’t in the cards for us that day. So many people were waiting in endless lines at every beignet cafe we came across! That city loves those beignets…

Meanwhile, our last night in NOLA was spent out on Magazine street – which I had never experienced before! We freshened up at our Airbnb before walking over to the cutesy neighborhood. We got a beer at the Bulldog Bar before heading to Cavan, an adorable vintage house-turned into bar and restaurant, for cocktails. While we only had cocktails, next time I come back I want to dine here. The inside was magical full of Victorian chandeliers and bright bold interior design.

This side of NOLA was way more my speed. It was cute, cozy, a bit more eccentric and less crowded / less touristy. I would 100% stay here and hangout here again. Our dinner reservations were just around the corner at Atchafalaya, a real NOLA creole & Cajun restaurant.

Everything was so damn delish! Eat here, you won’t regret it.

After several days and meals of Cajun and heavy cream southern concoctions, we slept like babies from food comas. Our last morning before hitting the long drive on I-10 back to Texas was spent waiting for those damn beignets (for 45 minutes!) and finally exploring some cemetaries. While John was pretty pissed we waited so long for those beignets, he loved their pillowy softness and totally would get them again.

Thank you New Orleans! We ate, we drank, we explored – we wore our masks when we could and we enjoyed the twisty winding roads of the old French Quarter and beyond. Thank you for always being a fun culinary hot spot! Until the next time we cross paths (probably in several more years)…

Barcelona 2020

After a glorious few days in Portugal we made our way to Barcelona as the 2nd destination for our February 2020 birthday trip (before the world closed down). This is the second part of our birthday trip beginning with Lisbon + Sintra. We arrived later in the evening and checked into our amazingly central and affordable hotel, Hotel Ciutat de Barcelona, in the El Born district just next to the Gothic neighborhood. It was both John and I’s first time in Barcelona or Spain for that matter (neither of us ever studied Spanish and never studied abroad so we were pretty excited). I wanted to be in an area with tons of restaurants, bars, and shops in walking distance but I also wanted to be close to the Gothic area as it’s one of the oldest parts and most historic. El Born seemed really fun and our hotel was in the perfect location! We spent our first night walking around El Born, grabbing dinner and drinks and resting up for our big first full day of exploration.

The next day we walked over to La Sagrada Familia, stopping along the Arc de Triomf for some photos and grabbing croissants and coffee. Of course due to popularity we got our tickets in advance, but on a weekday in February it was not busy at all. We spent a good hour and a half walking around, exploring every nook and cranny and listening to the guided tour. It’s incredible the amount of work and planning for this cathedral and Gaudi’s vision! It’s absolutely beautiful inside – the beams and posts are similar to trees and looking up is like looking up in a forest. The lighting is gorgeous and it feels peaceful.

Afterwards we walked by Casa Mila and throughout the Eixample neighborhood. I almost thought about staying there as it’s more of a neighborhood and less touristy than Gothic/El Born areas, but since it was our first time we were happy with our hotel location and choose to explore other areas when we could.

Gaudi’s influence is apparent throughout Barcelona. It’s such a distinct vibe unique to the city and we were all about it. Just walking through different neighborhoods and checking out the eccentric architecture was a fun activity in itself!

After walking around for a good few miles we had a delicious lunch in the Gothic district with the most amazing croquettes. I became seriously addicted to croquettes on this trip and even now dream of biting into their golden brown cheesy deliciousness. We decided to explore the Barcelona History Museum for free and learn more about how Barcelona came to be a powerhouse in the Iberian peninsula. There are ancient ruins underneath the city that you get to walk through too!

We then grabbed some empanadas and went to Terrace La Isabella for a rooftop happy hour and saw beautiful views of the city. Absolutely stunning with our divine weather! Also there aren’t many skyscrapers in Barcelona, the views are mostly hills and cathedrals. However the 1992 Olympics brought some modern architecture into play.

But really, Barcelona is SO much fun! I was really impressed with the history, the AMAZING food, endless options, fun walks, good wine – the list goes on and on. I would gladly go back and spend more time there – the energy is great. Kinda reminded me of parts of Paris and also parts of NYC.

We ended the night with an AWESOME night out at the most adorable alley spot in El Born for happy hour followed by a delicious Spanish meal for John’s bday! Iberian ham is the way to go, especially paired with fresh sangria. I can’t remember the name of this spot we went to but it was both our favorite place during our trip.

Our next day we spent at the morning at Las Ramblas markets and then rode public transit up to Park Guell just north of downtown. It’s a big hill to climb up to get to the top but it was a super interesting view and experience. There’s also tons of performing artists sprinkled throughout the climb, so beware if you feel yourself getting lost – you can hear faint singing to guide you back to your path πŸ™‚

Park Guell was Gaudi’s vision for a utopian neighborhood in the early 1900’s and it looks sorta like a surrealist wonder. You have to go as early as you can because it will be crowded and hard to get photos without too many people in the background, but definitely check it out! We didn’t get tickets in advance but we were able to purchase them on our phones in line for a quicker entrance.

In the evening we went on a walking ghost tour and it was one of our favorite things we did together! We ate in the Gothic area and met our guide outside the steps of the Cathedral de Barcelona for an adventurous evening.

Our tour guide was originally from Mexico City but also sort of grew up in the suburbs of Houston – and we bonded over Texas. She was so incredibly rad and was an awesome story teller – there are so many messed up stories she shared from Barcelona’s history. Like how the Opera house had burned down multiple times or the Vampire of Barcelona who kidnapped and murdered children. We really enjoyed walking around, exploring, and hearing more about the dark tales of the city. We ended the night with drinks and bites in a cute bar by the water. She offered us goat brain! (it’s a delicacy)

Our last day we were supposed to go on a fun excursion riding bikes along the water to the wine country, complete with tastings and lunch – however our trip was unfortunately cancelled last minute. We didn’t let this stop us, so instead John and I picked a winery that looked good, was open and didn’t need reservations, and booked a car to get us there. It ended up being the most fun day in Alella!

We opted for Alta Alella Vineyard because it had the best reviews and also didn’t require reservations. I’m not kidding the cab dropped us off at the end of a dirt road in front of their gate, driving off with dust in our faces. There was an intercom that I pushed to speak to someone and John legit turned to me and said “what if they are closed or won’t let us in and we are stuck here” and voila – they opened the gate and we walked about half a mile in to the tasting room where we enjoyed amazing Cava. It was such a funny moment. He was briefly scared I got us into a tough situation.

Originally we weren’t going to do a full vineyard tour, as there was already another group with a reservation with a private Catalonian tour. However they invited us to join, and they spoke both Catalonian and English so it ended up being the perfect experience!

When you are determined, anything is possible. I’m so glad we persevered and went despite our plans changing. I would recommend this experience to anyone who spends a few days in the area.

Alella

We enjoyed a 15-20 minute walk from the vineyard back to town for a bomb dot com lunch at Cal Barquer. Check out this amazing Iberian pork tonkatsu! It melted in my mouth.

After our fun filled afternoon in Alella, our last full day in Barcelona was coming to an end. We made one last stop at the Picasso Museum just a few short blocks away from our hotel, followed by our last meal.

Of course there was tons of things we didn’t get around to experiencing, like a Flamenco show. But I wouldn’t have changed anything about our amazing trip. We ate delicious food, explored art and historical museums, saw beautiful sights crafted by Gaudi, walked a ghost tour, bought some fun souvenirs, and enjoyed the culture.

Barcelona was a VIBE and we were there for it. I would love to go back to Spain and southern France on another trip because it’s just so gorgeous, a nice change of slower pace, and delicious food and wine for days. Here are some tips if you find yourself in Barcelona:

  1. Endless food options! You can eat anything you want – we even had fantastic Thai. The food IMO was better here than in Portugal but I enjoyed cuisines from both countries.
  2. Make sure you try Iberian ham, multiple times, in different forms! Also – the croquettes!!! I will not say it enough how good they are.
  3. There is a lot of stuff to do in terms of nightlife, it’s sort of like NYC meets Paris – but chill. If you like those cities you’ll enjoy Barcelona.
  4. They have a rich history and don’t really discuss WW2 or the 1930’s. In fact they refer to that time as the Struggles and it’s kinda kept quiet.
  5. There is an ongoing independence crisis that seems to be growing through the last few decades. Catalonian people are very proud of their heritage and speak a different language (like the folks on our vineyard tour).
  6. Get tickets for Sagrada Familia in advance and opt for the guided tour.
  7. Spend time exploring Gaudi architecture and Park Guell!
  8. The markets at Las Ramblas has tons of food options and tastings from all corners of culture – visit at least once.
  9. Have few day drinks and then opt for a siesta.
  10. The best shopping is in El Born.
  11. We walked a ton and only rode public transit for our visit to Park Guell, so I can’t speak to the metro system but if you stay in El Born/Gothic area close to Las Ramblas you probably will walk to most things.
  12. Visit wine country if you have the time.
El Born, the cutest neighborhood and our favorite!

Thanks Barcelona! Until next time.

I’m Published In A Travel Magazine!

Ah, I can’t believe it’s happened! My travel photos from Big Bend are published in the May/June 2021 edition of Southern Travel & Lifestyles Magazine.

How did this happen, you might ask?

An old gal pal of mine from college, Alyssa, is a writer for Southern Travel & Lifestyles. We actually met in the dorms of Kinsolving way back in 2003 and we’ve stayed in touch on social media ever since. She commented on how much she enjoyed my photos of Texas and asked if I would be willing to publish a few and I said absolutely! I handed her a folder of photos from our recent camping trip and here is how they turned out:

When I get the hard copy I’ll share more on my Instagram – @djemils

I am so proud of myself! I love traveling and exploring new places – and I love sharing what I find through photos and writing. There is so much out there waiting for us! I can only hope that this is the beginning of many collaborations with travel groups, publications, blogs, etc in the future.

Portugal: Lisbon + Sintra 2020

We were so incredibly lucky that we were able to sneak in our international birthday trip RIGHT before the world shut down from COVID. By mid-late January there was tension around the new virus and travel. We believed that we would be safe in Europe in early February, and amazingly we were. This is the first of a two part post from our incredible travel adventures to Portugal and Spain in February 2020.

We planned this trip through TripMasters, which is what my sister Bryana and I used when we visited Ireland in 2015. It’s a budget planner so you build a trip around the countries you want to visit, add in flights, car rentals if you want, hotels, and you get the biggest bang for your buck. The only catch is that you’re pretty much locked in after you plan, so there isn’t much room to make changes. I would suggest leaving plenty of room between flights if you are on a layover because we almost missed our flight to Lisbon out of NYC due to bad weather! However we made it on time (by the skin of our teeth) and things went smoothly from there.

Day 1

We decided to get the Lisbon transit pass during our stay which included unlimited public transit, a free roundtrip train ride to Sinta, and discounts for museums. It was well worth it, I highly suggest! We easily and quickly rode from the airport to our destination hotel at the Esquina Urban Lodge in city center. This eco-hotel was absolutely adorable, modern, and in the perfect location! The staff shared great travel tips and told us where to find the city elevators, which I never would have figured out on my own (they are built into cliffs and will easily take you up 8 floors). Everyone said, “Lisbon is so hilly, blah blah blah” – but coming from San Francisco I thought I was good with the hills. “There is no way it’s hillier than SF, we are prepared” I thought. I was so wrong! Lisbon makes SF look flat! We used the city elevators a few times, mostly when we visited the Castelo de S. Jorge.

After checking in, we opted for lunch at a cute sidewalk cafe, visited the Azulejo Museum (wow these tiles were gorgeous), and then found the famous Ginjinha bar and loved the cherry shot. They were so delicious! We probably visited 3 times over our stay and I bought a bottle to take home.

After taking a quick nap for our jet lag, we got dolled up and went out for a Fado show at A Tasca do Chico because we saw that Anthony Bordain visited and he enjoyed it, so we felt like it would be a good spot (is that lame to admit?). It’s always busy there but it’s worth the wait. Order tapas and wine and listen to the powerful melancholy melodies of the Fado singers. It was a totally unique experience!

We got some drinks and explored the nightlife in the Biarra Alto neighborhood afterwards; I have the funniest video of John and I taking fire shots (literally the waiters lit them on fire). It was cozy exploring the bars and sidewalk cafes in the alleys. I am happy we experienced the area, but I’m also glad we stayed about a 15 minute walk away in an area that’s a little less busy at night.

Day 2

After a wonderful night of rest, we visited the Sao Jorge Castle in the morning, explored the Alfama district with lunch by the water, rode transit to the National Coach Museum, the Jeronimos Monestary, and then rode bikes by the Belem Tower. It was a jam packed day and so much fun! I think we got in 11 miles walking alone. Are you tired just reading about all the crazy things we did in one day? (I’m tired just typing this!)

It was so incredible how efficient the public transit system was. I think out of every place we’ve ever traveled, it’s up there next to NYC and London. You can always get anywhere you want to go without waiting too long, there are multiple routes, and it’s just so cute. The Alfama district is right next to the castle so we grouped those outings together and rode across town to Belem where the rest of our museum sights were set.

It’s so crazy to think that these magical carriages carried royalty over terrain centuries ago and here they are on display in their golden greatness. Can you imagine traveling like this?! They are so ornate; it’s something you don’t get the chance to see often, if ever, so definitely check this out.

The Monestary is absolutely gorgeous and really close to the coach museum. Pay attention to the details! The architecture is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. So amazing! By this time our feet hurt so we rented some bikes to ride by the water. The bridge even looked almost identical to the Golden Gate!

This was my favorite memory with John in Lisbon. It was just such a happy day, we had seen so much cool stuff, and we were so playful riding around in the sun. The only thing that would have made it better was if we were able to ride a sunset sailboat cruise, but alas they were all sold out. If that is something that interests you I’m sure it would be such an amazing experience on a day with great weather. But still this day was top 5 of all time days. ❀

Belem Tower

We wound down by visiting the Time Out market for some delicious seafood pasta and wandered around the famous Pink Street for some shopping and drinks. It was a fun-filled day with many memories!

Day 3

We used our roundtrip train ticket for Sintra, which is something friends of ours suggested and I’m so glad we did it! It’s about a 45 minute train ride each way and you must go early in the morning because it will get crowded. Everything I read said that you wouldn’t be able to do everything you wanted, so just pick 2 castles and make them your priority.

We grabbed some of these lovely Portuguese egg pastries (PastΓ©is de Nata) for breakfast and made our way via train. Ok these things were delicious and we had them every day!

Once we made it to Sintra, we bought the bus pass for the castle route that included Pena Palace. This is the most famous castle and it’s best to go as early as possible, it’s also pretty far (about another 25 minute drive) on very windy roads. Our bus driver was damn amazing taking our ginormous vehicle up huge hills on twisty roads. Thank god I didn’t get sick!

It was just so dreamy; almost like we were in a fairy tale. You could see awesome views of the Castle of the Moors from the top!

There are dozens of castles in Sintra, you could easily spend several days exploring them all. And you feel like you can do so many in a day, but really you can comfortably visit 2, maybe 3 if you aren’t relying on the train. Because everything is so spread out, you must factor in the time it takes to get from the train station to each castle and then the time spent at the castle grounds. After we had a drink at the bar on the castle roof it was already lunch time so we hopped on the bus towards downtown and picked a fabulous spot that I can’t remember the name of, the experience only lives in my memory. But the dish was delish! And so was the view πŸ™‚

After an amazing meal we visited Quinta da Regaleira which was in walking distance from downtown. It was the perfect plan to start with Pena Palace because it was so far away and busy, once we were downtown we could take our time. I chose this castle because it looks absolutely ethereal, like Great Expectations or some amazing dream.

I loved this castle so much! It was the most picturesque. Talk about a dream come true! If you have an extra day in Lisbon it’s worth visiting Sintra! Also this is weird to say, but I love moss a lot and the greenery of this castle made my heart sing.

We finished up and headed back to Lisbon for our final night in the city. We were pooped! Lots of sight seeing was done in three days, but I always like to jam pack my visits with everything I can do because who knows when you will ever be back again! Our last meal was spent over by the Pink Street we visited earlier because we liked those dive bars the best. I think there was even one named “Bar Texas” – LOL.

Portugal was a blast! Here are some things to keep in mind should you find yourself there:

  1. It is very hilly! Make sure you know where the elevators are and bring comfortable shoes.
  2. Group things you want to see by neighborhoods. Pick the top 3-5 neighborhoods you want to explore and then create a list of things you want to see in each area.
  3. Get the metro pass if you are there for 2-3+ days. It’s worth it!
  4. See as many museums as you can because there are so many interesting and unique things to Portugal that I’ve never come across before.
  5. Fado show is a must.
  6. The food is great! Make sure to really explore the vast culture of the food. It did hurt my stomach a bit (but I have a sensitive tummy) so I would look up the best places and see what’s available (and also bring Pepto should you need it).
  7. There are loads of guys that try to sell you drugs in city center – be aware!
  8. You won’t be able to do everything you want – aim for your top picks.
  9. I wish we did a sailboat cruise! If you want to do that you have to buy tickets in advance. Everything else you can just do whenever you want (which is so nice you can go at your own pace).
  10. It’s a lot like San Francisco.

Thanks Portugal!

One Year of the Pandemic: CA vs. TX

We’ve been in quarantine for over a year, and I’ve spent six months of quarantine in California and the second six months in Texas. As a Texan who grew up here for most of my life, with 12 years living in San Francisco, recently moving back – here are my thoughts on both experiences.

We lived on the corner of Alamo Square, so each morning I took my walks in this park and had easy access to crisp fresh air. Well, not at first. Truth be told, the first 3 weeks of quarantine in March 2020 I barely left my house, only to go to the grocery store once a week. I was super paranoid about COVID and not quite sure how it was spreading or what was going on (and I lost my job and was needless to say, depressed). Little by little my confidence in being able to go on daily walks and runs increased and soon I spent the majority of my outside time in this park. I miss this park so much!

As quarantine went on in San Francisco, I spent a fair amount of my time running and walking in Golden Gate Park. I walked to places I had never seen before! I usually clocked upwards of 7-10K steps daily and listened to all sorts of creepy podcasts along the way. The weather of course is always so amazing in California, perfect for long walks and hikes.

Hiking in California was relatively easy, because there are so many trails and land is available for public use outside of state and federal parks. You didn’t have to plan (unless the areas were closed from COVID) and it was easy to pick a trail and go. It was, however, much busier since so many people were stuck inside – but we were always able to hike whenever we wanted.

The thing that made everything even more depressing was that businesses were closing left and right in SF. Everything was boarded up. Few business were essential enough to be open, you couldn’t get a haircut for a very long time, and outdoor eating and drinking was on and off allowed, and monitored very heavily. Really the only thing you could do is sit 6 feet away from friends in the park. And we definitely did that a lot. But it was just incredibly sad. I had been in San Francisco for 12 years of my life. Of course cities change a lot over time when people move in and out and dynamics and economy changes the environment. SF was already different 2 years in vs. 6 years in vs. 12 years in of my experience. But it really was not the same city at all that I moved to.

Artists and locals were struggling to live there because of the cost of living, which is understandable, and many were forced out long before the pandemic. And in the years leading up to COVID, my favorite local hot spots, night clubs, dive bars were already on their way out. Musicians and DJs left for places like Berlin or Brooklyn or LA. SF was becoming more consumed with the tech community. I had worked in ad-tech before but for my last 2-3 years in the city I worked in entertainment marketing for the Curran theater, so I lost my job at the beginning of COVID because large theaters were a no-no, tech companies declared everyone could work from home, and the companies that had headquarters in SF laid off 20% of their workers – which was basically their marketing and advertising teams. So yeah, even more and more depressing. I’ve mentioned this before being one of the main reasons behind our decision to leave. And leaving was, VERY very hard for me. But, I know it would have been even harder for me if I stayed and watched the city that I loved dramatically change before my eyes without me being able to keep up.

I miss the coastline. Trees. The forest. Hiking. The amazing weather. Access to wine country and mountains and Tahoe. And of course our friends and John’s family. Being in nature during COVID is 100% better in California.

But, after a dozen years away from Texas, it’s a whole new adventure!

I still spend my run/walks in either the park closest to my house (5 minute drive) or downtown around Town Lake which is about 15 minutes away. Of course we miss the walk-ability of a city like SF. But having a car and being able to quickly get from point A to B is also incredibly nice. Plus the lakes here have their own unique environments, like the turtles that are around every bend, or the bats that live under the Congress bridge. Lake culture is also really fun!

The weather is obviously not as nice as California, but actually it hasn’t been as hot as I feared it would (though we are approaching summer months and I’m sure I’ll hate it). Weather in Texas can be completely unpredictable. We’ve had crazy thunderstorms, golf ball sized hail, triple digit heat, light snow flurries, AND an insane snowstorm that literally almost broke the grid and uprooted civilization for more than a week!

It keeps things very interesting! We’ve also been able to go on a lot of roadtrips and explore new places and small towns. Mostly with family, but we’ve stayed out on the lake and went on a boat adventure, stayed in a cozy AirBnb in the Hill Country and did some distant wine tasting, and also stayed in a haunted hotel in San Antonio. People in Texas are much more open about traveling and visiting areas than in California. They are a bit more independent from government and like to do what they want. I’m not saying it’s bad or good either way, just different. I would say that of my friends in California, John and I are more comfortable with traveling safely during COVID, always sanitizing along the way, sticking to ourselves, and never eating inside a restaurant. But compared to people in Texas, we are the ones who are more cautious about following the rules. We always wear a mask no matter what and constantly sanitize. To me that makes sense, and I know Californians follow those protocols because it’s what scientists have said to do. Not everyone feels that way here, but at least we are in Austin which is the most liberal part of the state, some parts of it feel MORE liberal to me than parts of the Bay Area. With that said, going on local travel and exploration during COVID is 100% more fun in Texas.

While restaurants in California are closed inside, and only available for takeout or outdoor dining when allowed, everything is open in Texas. That really struck me as weird when we first moved. People still eat inside like nothing is wrong. We are patio people 100%. However the good news is that most businesses have patios! Something not as available in San Francisco due to space restrictions. So yes, we go out to eat about once or twice a week and sit on a lovely patio and support our local restaurants. And we only drink at bars with patios. I enjoy this about our current living situation, and knowing Austin is the most strict of all places in Texas makes me feel safer. So eating and drinking out is 100% better in Austin. You can be safe and there is space to be distant outside, making you feel like there is still some semblance of normality. Also, Texas has HEB grocery stores and that is definitely better here than in CA – I love HEB so much! ( AND our local HEB around the corner has an outdoor bar patio, which is double amazing)

Swimming is something I’m super excited to do again! I rarely ever got in a bathing suit in CA outside of yearly Tahoe visits, and most of that time was for hot tubs. While there aren’t shaded forests, Texas has a lot of interesting geology, greenbelts, swimming holes, and batholiths. I’m excited to explore more in the summer and SWIM – something I feel I haven’t done much of the last twelve years. We will see how I handle the summer months.

Hiking in Texas is very different than in California. You need reservations everywhere you go, and must book them out weeks in advance. This is similar to how camping in California is, the best spots need to be booked out months in advance, so I understand that. But hiking was never an issue. Here, most of the land is privately owned so there isn’t as much available for people to just go hike. And with COVID, reservations are required. It’s kinda crazy to me that we can’t just go outside when we want and explore. But there are definitely places that don’t require reservations. There also aren’t as many hiking trails with elevation changes, so it can feel more like walking. But despite those differences there are some amazingly beautiful hikes we’ve explored. Overall, California is 100% better for hiking.

There are pros and cons to both experiences, and I love California and Texas in different ways. They make up different parts of my personality, and it’s ok that I feel connected to both. I really don’t understand the judgements folks have for both sides. Extreme Californians can’t stand people from red states, and won’t even listen to someone from Texas (this happened to me when I first moved to California during a business meeting) and people who have never left Texas think Californians are coming for their guns. LMAO. But also, it’s incredibly infuriating. I am a 5th generation Texan. My whole entire family is Texan. I mostly grew up here (alongside living outside of Yellow Springs in Ohio for my childhood) and there are some things I really love and admire about Texas. Not everything of course – I am very liberal and lived in San Francisco for 12 years! And obviously there are many things I love and admire about California, especially for me to uproot my life and independently move across country and stay for 1/3 of my life. I can feel connected to part of my heritage in Texas and also feel connected to the west coast life – you don’t have to be one or the other. You can be both. I am both. I am an incredibly independent, free thinking, ambitious hard working woman who believes we are all connected and everyone should have equal rights and access to free health care!

All I am saying here is, never judge someone based on where they live, you don’t know their story.

Crater Lake, Oregon July 2019

In July of 2019 we made an epic roadtrip with our roadtrip/camping besties Jenn & Ian (who explored Big Bend with us) to Crater Lake, Oregon. I wanted to see this National Park for many years so we all jumped in on an amazing campsite over July of 2019 to make it happen.

We decided to break up the drive so that we could explore more things along the way, so day #1 was from SF to just outside of Redding, CA. We made plans to visit the Mount Shasta Dam in the morning because, it was DAM TIME to see a dam! πŸ˜‰ I hadn’t been to this part of CA before so it was really educational and fun to check out. Plus John + Ian bought matching dam t-shirts, so there was that.

After our time at Shasta we moved on to our awesome campsite at the Union Creek campsite just off the Rogue river. There are quite a few options to camp within Crater Lake, most of which didn’t provide reservations in advance, and since we were coming from so far we wanted a guaranteed spot and opted to stay just outside the Crater Lake limits. This campsite was EPIC. It had the biggest, most spread out spacious sites I’ve ever seen. And the Rogue river was literally right behind our setup so we could hear the rolling water which was very peaceful.

The beautiful views of the Union Creek campsite. This is my favorite campsite I’ve ever been!!

The Pacific Northwest is the most beautiful place in America, IMO. I miss it so much but appreciate all of the amazing adventures I was able to embark on before moving back to Texas. I know there will be many more in the future, but to me, there is nothing more beautiful than the misty fog over the oldest, largest trees in the country, surrounded by lakes, rivers, or the ocean, complemented with deep evergreen and mossy hues. It makes my heart sing and feels like home. John also is very much a forest person as well and it’s nice that we both feel that connection.

The funniest thing happened during our camping adventure. We had a mouse roommate who literally hung-out with us and ate pieces of our s’mores on the picnic table! He wasn’t even scared of us. He was our Ratatouille IRL.

I mean, look at this face ❀

The next morning we hiked and explored Crater Lake! One thing that was very surprising was that there wasn’t any place to buy water. Not in the gift shop, not in the cafeteria. It was very bizarre and we were SO HOT. I think I guzzled down 2 bottles plus Gatorade once we were able to get our hands on some, but note to self if you make it to CL bring your own H2O!

We hiked the Watchman Lookout Trail just on the outer rim. It got pretty steep at the end but once you made it to the top it was the best view of the lake. Crater Lake is the second deepest lake in America, right after Tahoe, and I love them both ❀

We said goodbye to Crater Lake and HELLO to the Umpqua Hot Springs, about an hour north. We wanted to hike in the Umpqua Forest and relax in the hot springs to really SOAK in the local culture <lol>. One thing we saw a lot of was naked people though, including sexy social media influencers – which was a bit strange to observe. We felt a bit weird and decided it was time to go, but luckily had enough time in the mystical area. Perhaps it’s a faerie thing?

Oregon is GORGEOUS. Explore Crater Lake. Get in the hot springs. CAMP. You won’t be disappointed! Our journey back to San Francisco ended with an overnight stay at a quaint cabin in the woods style Airbnb in Dunsmuir. This town was so adorable! And our cabin was very close to the famous Mossbrae Falls, we just walked down the train tracks for this SPECTACULAR view.

Mossbrae Falls is truly breathtaking! We probably stayed for an hour enjoying the sights. It’s pretty closed off from the public, you have to know where it is and walk the train tracks to get there – it’s not accessible from the road. I heard something about them creating a public entrance after we visited, but not sure if that happened.

We had the most fun making the best memories with our friends. If you feel compelled to discover Oregon or the PNW I highly encourage you to check something out!

It’s such a cool feeling to cross something off your bucket list. Here I am taking in the views and connecting to the environment. Here’s to the next item I can check off…

Introducing Retro Dollhouse

I did it y’all, I launched my own t-shirt shop. After many years of saying things like “that would be a funny t-shirt” I have made my vision a reality. Introducing Retro Dollhouse.

Since college I’ve always thought about how funny it would be to make this or that, being drawn to puns and unique humor. While I’ve had many ideas on what would be funny or cool to make or wear, it never occurred to me to make it come true…not until Covid hit. When I lost my job and had more time on my hands to actually think about what I enjoy, I started taking more classes around design and investing in my photoshop skills. Something just clicked in me, I wanted to make this into a reality.

My thoughts were that there are tons of 70s rock band tees, but nothing from when I was in college and really connected with music. So I started there with creating a few shirts inspired by artists I loved (LCD Soundsystem, The Killers). Then I thought about my love for Saturday Night Live and how niche of an audience that is that would love to wear a bizarre one-liner from their favorite skit. I obviously needed a Seinfeld reference and included John Malkovich because I think he’s fucking hilarious. Then I added a few modern day memes and boom – I came up with my Spring 2021 collection!

I have no idea where this will go and how successful it will be – but I just knew I needed to create. My hope is that I can build RH as I grow more comfortable in the retail business, creating more designs and unique products and also eventually breaking into being a full on boutique where I can curate items from other artists. And SOMEDAY making my own fashion line. But for now I’m starting small – so here’s to the dreamers out there. If you are thinking about it – been thinking about it (for a while now or even if it’s just a new idea) – DO IT!!! The world needs our creative energy especially now more than ever. You will feel such a release through the process of making your idea happen it will make you more excited to create and you will burst with additional new ideas.

I love creating!

I hope you feel inspired. And I hope you buy a t-shirt πŸ™‚ (but srsly). New designs will be updated monthly but expect them to live in the same realm as the current catalog. Follow @retrodollhouse on instagram to stay up to date!

Big Bend National Park – November 2020

Before we officially made the move across country, our good pals Jen and Ian (who also moved from SF to Austin about 6 months before us) asked us if we would join them in Big Bend National Park for a week in November. I never visited before so of course we said YES PLEASE and let them do all the planning. You know how it goes, things book up 6-8 months in advance and especially during COVID everyone wants their fair share of exploring the outdoors, so they jumped on an awesome campsite for part of our travels, and also successfully secured us a two night stay at the newly finished Basecamp Terlingua bubbles πŸ™‚ . Read along to hear how this group of new Texans navigated West Texas!

To break up the trip we decided to spend about 5 hours driving on our first day and stayed in a hotel in Fort Stockton. There wasn’t anything particularly special about this except that we had some of the most bomb dot com Mexican food since we moved. After a fresh night of rest we drove through Marathon down to our campsite at the Rio Grande Village, where we met up with another couple friends. This campsite is the closest one to the actual bend in the Rio Grande river and was definitely a different experience than California camping. Like for example, the wild javalinas (otherwise known as wild hogs), roadrunners and endless amounts of spiders present. One would never hear 2 wild hogs mating in the wild in the redwood forest!

After checking out the visitor center, talking to the rangers and seeing dinosaur fossils on display, we explored the quick trail at the river and were practically in Mexico! There were lots of local folks along the way selling cute art and cold coke-a-colas. I totally got both on our way back as the roadrunner figurine was adorable and as it was hot AF in mid-November, I needed a cold refreshing Mexican coke (which are the best cokes out there IMO).

We also experienced the most breathtaking sunset hike just a short walk from our campsite. It was so nice, John and I did it TWICE.

It was a bit strange to not be able to have a camp fire as we’ve pretty much always done so in California, but we still had a blast and saw the stars like never before! I was actually surprised at how chilly it got because it was very hot earlier. How do people camp here in the spring or summer? I have no idea – but if I were you I would book a fall/winter trip.

The next day we hiked the famous Lost Mine Trail, which is just under 5 miles roundtrip and one of the few moderate options in the park. There are tons of hard and easy hikes, but not a lot of middle of the road options, so this trail has a lot of traffic. We went after breakfast and completed the trail in about 3 hours. I had no idea we were basically hiking to the tip top of the viewing point, so the first 75% of the hike seemed totally normal to me but the top was very steep and a bit nerve wrecking, but once I made it all the way it was so awesome! I am getting better about handling my anxiety around heights and “falling off a mountain top” but each and every hike like this where I push myself outside of my comfort zone only makes me stronger. And like Miley Cyrus sings, “it’s the climb” – both literally and figuratively.

After dinner, we drove off road to see Ernst Tinaja, a geological formation and walk that a Park Ranger told us was a must see for geology lovers. After taking about an hour to actually drive there off road (it was only 6 miles!) John and I ran out to see it RIGHT before the sun went down and man we are so glad we made it happen! We were able to spend about 20 minutes before it was total darkness and another 45 minutes to an hour drive back. If you have a great car for off roading, do it!

It was an incredible day of seeing new things and exploring a whole new side of Texas with our best friends.

After our last night camping we packed up and drove across the park to the famous divide. We had planned to do some light hiking but we got a late start and we didn’t have a lot of food on hand so we opted to save our energy. We still explored tons of rocks and found boundless quartz and rock crystals without having to venture too far out. It was so cool to see upclose and personal.

And after we left the park we drove to Terlingua and made it to our famous bubble!

It was incredible to be able to see the stars and actually capture them with a camera. We used our Canon DSLR via long exposure and had a few great selects.

The town of Terlingua is so cute and small but just the perfect vibe to spend a few night glamping after tent camping in the park. The bubble was interesting, it had a small room outside of the bubble with two doors and a whole system of opening one door and closing the other because if both doors closed, the bubble would deflate. And yep it happened on accident! However, once we figured it out the bubble quickly filled up with air again. It was quite comical but amazing the time we live in.

Our last day was spent exploring Terlingua and Lajitas where we had more delish Mexican food and did some boutique shopping and graveyard exploring before spending the last night in the HOT TUB, drinking wine and watching the stars.

I was a bit sad when we came to the end of our trip out West. I had never experienced West Texas before in my previous life as a Texan. I think it was just so far away from everything at the time, my family didn’t plan trips that way since our relatives were always east of us (being in San Antonio). But I would definitely go back and want to explore more parts of Texas that I’ve never been!

We drove off back towards Austin through Alpine where we got one of the last photos of the Alpine Target. It was demolished a few weeks after our visit because it was found structurally unsafe (eeee!) but at least we got to see it. We decided not to go to Marfa because it was out of the way and our trip was already so long, plus we heard that it’s not much different than Alpine or surrounding areas – it just has this hipster art label and a fake Prada. Maybe one day we will go back and see it, but unless it’s along the way of something else we are doing I don’t think I would go out of my way.

Next on our list is Palo Duro, Sam Houston State Park, Garner State Park and Guadalupe Mountains (and hoping for Carlsbad Caverns if we’re out there). Hoping we can get 1-2 of those off our list by end of year!

I hope you get the chance to explore Big Bend National Park and West Texas at some point in your life, it’s such a unique place and charming vibe. I also threw up some shots into my store so if you’re interested in having a little piece of West Texas in your home ❀