Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hill Country Musing

I am a homebody. I love where we live and I enjoy just hanging around with the boys in and out of the house. We have everything our heart's desire; fields to run in, old barns to explore, trees to climb, a pond to fish, and a comfortable lived-in house to rest in when it is too cold, hot, or dark to be outside.

However, sometimes I need to get away... Before kids we took those amazing trips to Mexico, Nevada, California, Germany, Florida, Norway, Massachusetts, etc. You know how it is, when you are young and don't have many financial or emotional obligations and have the energy to travel.

With money being tight and my body not looking quite as hot in a two-piece ;-), we have found inexpensive ways to take holidays now.

The first money saver we sometimes employ is to leave my husband home. Do you know how much he eats? Actually, he has a new practice and hates to leave for more than a day or two, so we compromise. He gets a few days in a kid-free house (bliss), and I get to take a little trip with the kids (bliss?).

The second way to save our pennies is to travel by car in our great state. I have been all over the US and other countries, but I love Texas. I love the west, home of Big Bend and Fort Davis. I love the far west where you can find the huge mountains of Guadalupe National Park. South Texas has the beautiful beaches of Padre Island. And east Texas has rolling hills and my parent's relaxing country cottage just out of Henderson. (By country cottage I mean little wooden shack with sulfur-smelling water and friendly mice and rats visiting you throughout the night.)

But one of my favorite places to visit is the Texas Hill Country. It is simply beautiful. Once you head west out of Austin you will find a bit of Texas paradise.

So last week we went to Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock, Pedernales Falls, Rather Sweet Bakery (her book is worth every penny: The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes from the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe), and a few beautiful wineries, including Grape Creek and Becker.

It was the perfect holiday. Hiking in cool weather under vivid blue smog-free skies. Fresh pastries and coffee every morning, lunch at quaint little German restaurants, and evenings sipping wine on outside patios admiring the amazing view of rolling hills and bare grapevines stretching out past the horizon.

Well, almost perfect. Remember, I was not with my dear husband or even alone (I truthfully wouldn't mind a few days alone). I was with Imp and Duke, my sis Heather and her two little ones (her baby is only 7 months), my mother and my almost 90 year old grandmother. All lovely wonderful people. HOWEVER...

I also used our third money saver; stay in cheap motels with maximum people per room. We had two adjoining hotel rooms and 4 beds at a lovely little hotel. And 2 women who snored loudly (I am a lady and won't mention any names, but it wasn't me) and four little hyper kids. I would love for you to close your eyes for a minute and picture this. Are you relaxed yet?

My other sis was supposed to join us for one day with her two kids, but she called me and, I quote, "Rita, I have to be honest and tell you that the idea of going to a winery and then dinner with 6 incredibly energetic kids makes me want to vomit!". I love my middle sis, doesn't she have a way with words? We are arranging to get together later with just our four kids to avoid any stomach issues. ;-)

Oh, but even with lack of sleep, it was a wonderful getaway. I had no computer access which was a nice break, and the kids all had a great time playing with each other. The wine was amazing, and I drank enough coffee to make my eyeballs swim around in my skull. And not having to cook three meals a day, what a break!

The picture above is Imp, Duke, and Princess trying to run up to the Summit of Enchanted Rock. Needless to say, we did not make it. I decided the risk of them tumbling down the huge rock was not worth the view. :-)

So I am back home, it is cold and gloomy, and I am already missing the clean air and friendly people of the Texas Hill Country. Funny about vacations, you can't wait to get away, are ready to come home, and once home miss being away.

On this image, I did a quick and dirty LightRoom edit. Then I opened it in Photoshop CS4 and change to LAB mode. I copied the background twice, putting the top layer in Multiply blending mode (25%) and the middle layer in Screen (40%). Then I went back to RGB mode. This is a great way to get a vibrant color pop, but unfortunately it won't work in Photoshop Elements. The reds and blues of this image are actually true to what I saw in real life.


  1. I must admit that I love your blog and use it for help and ideas often. I, however, have not had the opportunity of thanking you for your hardwork. Thank you for sharing your talents with others, and me. You are amazing. Thank you! :)

  2. My family has discovered so many great getaways in our own state (PA)! Cheap and fun daycations :) Sounds like you had such a great time!

    I may have to return to explore TX some day. The places you have listed are gorgeous! My mom used to live in Eastern TX, her and my step dad were not the best tour guides...and we always seemed to be there during a heat wave, so I always left not liking the place so much!

  3. Love that story!! I can relate. As a single parent of 2 girls, I used to vacation with a friend who also had 2 kids. Road trips with the 6 of us in my van, 4 kids trying to entertain on another for days on end, the cheap motels,,,,ha ha, it's all coming back to me!
    Always fun to get away, but good to be home right?

  4. Sounds like a fun trip. I can't imagine going on a trip without my husband... I need his help with our kids, maybe when they are a bit older.

  5. I remember going there not to long ago...the only problem was it was a KILLER on my allergies!!! Have you tried going to Fossil Rim in Texas yet? It's our favorite cheap getaway! There is a Best Western there that is SO kid friendly, we love it!!! Thanks SO much for all your amazing work, love this blog!!!

  6. Love the Hill Country. We used to live in the area around San Antonio but we did part of our honeymoon in Frederiksburg.

  7. Sounds like a nice vacation, albeit a little bit wild with that many folks in two rooms!

  8. Just wanted to pipe in and thank you for being so generous with your knowledge and talent. I just today came across your blog via I Heart Faces, and I'm so glad I did. Can't wait to explore some more. Good karma to you!

  9. Ok, you've got me ready to pack the car and head out of Kansas to Texas Hill Country TODAY! :-)

    Just found your blog through Jen at Muddy Boot Dreams, and I'm looking forward to finding some cool PSE actions... I'm on an iMac and I either use PSE or Picnik, an online editing program, which regretfully doesn't like big files.

    I haven't had the opportunity to really cruise around your site, but I'll say "thank-you" in advance for sharing your knowledge! :-)

  10. Your blog needs a "Like" button. I am a Texas girl and love the Hill Country. I also love your blog. I am always interested to see what you are going to post next.