Tag Archives: Central Texas

Take a Walk on the Wild Side of Barton Springs Pool in Austin, Texas

Barton Springs Pool in Austin, Texas
Barton Springs Pool in Austin, Texas. Photo courtesy of the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau.

You probably came here thinking you’d learn more about one of Austin’s treasures – Barton Springs Pool. Believe me, what you’ll find when you watch this YouTube video will teach you quite a bit about what goes on at Barton Springs.

Need a laugh? I came across a little gem in the Austinist’s daily newsletter, and it’s something I have to share. If you’ve ever gone to Barton Springs Pool in Austin, Texas, then you get the scene. Ha!

Thanks to John “Jinx” McGee and Taylor Powell for the video. Sequel, please!

God damn, I love this city!!

If you’d like to purchase Jinx’s music, “Barton Sprangs” is now available on iTunes.

Keeping Austin weird, wonderful, and WILD!

The original Austinist article is found here. I recommend subscribing to the Austinist to keep up with politics, ATX news, and funny stories.

What are your experiences at Barton Sprangs? Don’t be shy – share what you’ve seen and experienced.

Blue Ribbon Summer Festival II in Waco, Texas

Ribbon Summer Festival II.
Double Jeopardy and Laura Townshend, the 2’6″ Hunter Classic winners, with trainer Paige Erwin.

The life of showing horses can’t be summed up in one word. At least not from my perspective. We recently attended the Blue Ribbon Summer Festival II in Waco, Texas. I can put this particular show into three words: It was  GREAT!

David Morse, of Morse & Associates, is the mastermind behind the Blue Ribbon Show Series. The Blue Ribbon Summer Festival is held annually in June. The only downside of this circuit is the terrible Texas heat. The upside? This is the last USEF AA-rated and THJA A-rated show until September. You betcha riders and horses line up to be part of the action. This year’s shows served exhibitors from as far away as Florida.

I must give a personal shout-out to David Morse. When I originally sent in my entry forms, my daughter and I were both planning to show and we were each taking a horse. Within days of submitting our entries, we had my daughter’s show hunter seen by Cliff Honnas, DVM, of Texas Equine Hospital. Our beloved Newspaper Taxi was diagnosed with spinal issues, received back injections, and is awaiting surgery. I emailed David Morse to pull our horse from the show, and David made the process so simple. When we actually arrived at the show and checked in with the show management office, Newspaper Taxi’s entry form had been pulled by David. There was no need for me to present Dr. Honnas’ documentation or explain why our other horse wasn’t there. David, you rock! Thanks!

This was my first rated show with the horse I’m leasing, Double Jeopardy (Monte). He’s an eighteen year old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred cross, and an adult hunter champion. He’s owned by Caren Luckie and trained by Pam Hunt of Hunt Farm. Thanks for allowing me to love, ride, and show your amazing horse!

Double Jeopardy and Laura Townshend at the Blue Ribbon Summer Festival II 2013.

I’ve mentioned before that it takes a village to prepare a horse. I want to thank Jaime Zavala, professional show groom, for taking such good care of Monte while we were on the road. Without Jaime’s special care, we would not have achieved the success we found at this show. My daughter, Afriel, was instrumental in keeping me cool and calm between classes. Thanks for all the bottled water and wet towels!

Robin Burgess of Sunset Cliff Farms was also nice enough to give me tips about the ring we rode in. As we were schooling in the early morning on Tuesday, she rode up, said hello and told me the outside lines were a long five. Thanks, Robin!

We had a super show. Great food all week long (we will be posting our reviews shortly) and it was so good to see all my horsey friends.

These videos are Monte and me riding the 2’6″ Hunter Classic rounds. And, of course, our victory gallop!

Central Market in Austin, Texas – A Pictorial Review

Central Market on Foodio54

Central Market in Austin, Texas, is alive and well. We visited mid-morning, late last summer, and the store was fairly quiet.

Central Market in Austin, Texas

Still beautiful after all these years, the Lamar Street location was built in 1992, and was the first Central Market to open.

Central Market in Austin, Texas

Dig the avocados and fresh guacamole. Too busy to create the guac of your dreams? No problem – you’ve got two different sizes of fresh guacamole to choose from.

Central Market in Austin, Texas

The hardest part of shopping at Central Market? I want everything!

Central Market in Austin, Texas

Figs, figs, and more figs. Why not take a little of each?

Central Market in Austin, Texas

It’s easy to buy the perfect wine with the plethora of vintages available. Still not sure which bottle to choose? No problem. Central Market’s wine experts are on hand to help.

Central Market in Austin, Texas

The wine department is huge.

Central Market in Austin, Texas

My favorite area – the seafood market.

Central Market in Austin, Texas

Fresh fish.

Central Market in Austin, Texas

Shrimp.

Central Market in Austin, Texas

Why shop anywhere else?

Central Market in Austin, Texas

Are you really into food?

Visit Central Market for additional information. You can sign up for the eFoodie newsletter, follow Central Market on Twitter, and like the store on Facebook. Additionally, the site offers information about cooking classes, recipes and entertaining, a blog, and what’s happening in the store.

Central Market also features an in-store cafe. Me? I adore the sushi, which is what my next post is all about.

Dig shopping online? Click here.

Central Market in Austin, Texas, has two locations:

4477 South Lamar Boulevard

Austin, Texas 78745

512/899-4300

and

4001 North Lamar Boulevard

Austin, Texas 78756

512/206-1000

Pie Happy Hour at the Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls, Texas

A tempting, delicious slice of cherry pie.
A tempting, delicious slice of cherry pie.

Blue Bonnet Cafe on Foodio54

Blue Bonnet Cafe on Urbanspoon
Most Texans know what Happy Hour means — a few cold ones with friends after work and if you’re lucky, stale peanuts as a snack. Looking for a new twist? Blue Bonnet Cafe’s Pie Happy Hour in Marble Falls, Texas, offers a slice of pie and a drink for $3.50. Held Monday through Friday, it’s not just the locals who line up for a treat.

That’s what the Cafe is all about: Community. Wonderful things happen at the Blue Bonnet. Locals buy meals for active duty personnel, wait staff check up on regular customers and people come from all over to enjoy homemade pie. Hostess Terry Daughtry says, “The tourists, the outsiders, changed the look of the restaurant. People were coming in specifically for the pie.”

What might a hungry traveler find on the pie menu? Fruit, nut, creme and meringue pies including apple, cherry, pecan, coconut, banana and lemon. For chocolate lovers, the Cafe offers fudge, chocolate and German chocolate. If you love peanut butter, Blue Bonnet has that, too.

Maura Dominguez
Maura Dominguez

Pie Happy Hour’s secret weapon is Maura Dominguez. She’s baked the Cafe’s pies for 18 years. Since the inception of Pie Happy Hour, Dominguez produces 75 to 100 pies daily and double that amount on weekends. The mother of five proudly discloses, “This is my first job, and I like it so much, it will be my only job.”

Dominguez makes the pies from scratch without the help of measuring utensils. Brent Klett, Blue Bonnet Cafe’s manager, says, “She does everything by touch.” Dominguez is also responsible for making donuts, biscuits and breads.

Small in stature with a shy smile, Dominguez easily manages the Cafe’s bakery. Her work day begins at 5 a.m. and ends between 2 to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Dominguez admits she doesn’t cook at home and allows family members to spoil her.

During Thanksgiving and Christmas, Dominguez stays busy making pre-ordered pies. In addition to the regular pie menu, Blue Bonnet Cafe offers a seasonal pumpkin pie. “Thanksgiving is our biggest, busiest time for pies. Typically we cut off all pre-sales on pies 4 to 5 days before Thanksgiving. We’ll have pie boxes stacked everywhere,” owner John Kemper says.

Blue Bonnet Cafe was built in 1929 on Main Street and moved to its present location on Hwy 281 in 1946. Kemper bought the establishment in

Blue Bonnet Cafe - Marble Falls, Texas
Blue Bonnet Cafe – Marble Falls, Texas

1981. About four years ago, Kemper and his wife, Brenda, brainstormed new ways to bring in customers during weekday afternoons.

“We thought, why not a Pie Happy Hour? It’s brought us a lot of attention, because I don’t know anybody else that has Pie Happy Hour,” Kemper explains.

Kemper recalls some funny pie stories. “I’ve seen lots of different people come in and they’ll order pie before their meal. I had one guy that ordered a whole coconut creme pie and sat there and ate the whole thing. That was his meal. He said, ‘Bring me a coconut creme pie.’ And he ate it right out of the pie shell.”

The Cafe’s success is due to Kemper’s fine-tuned people sense coupled with business savvy. “I enjoy my customers and my employees. The thing about [the Cafe] is we’re lucky that we have so much business, and that we’re always geared up for business. These waitresses and cooks, they’ll work six, eight hours straight. That’s pretty amazing. To this day, every day, I’m amazed at this place.”

Serving Pie Happy Hour
Serving Pie Happy Hour

Kemper adds, “It’s not a reflection of me, it’s a reflection of the employees. It’s very touching, because they work so hard.”

The good feelings and vibes are mutual. A waitress who wished to remain anonymous left a short, handwritten note, expressing that everyone who worked for Kemper felt the same way.

“John is a true hometown hero. He genuinely cares about all his employees, and the community as well. He has a heart as big as the history of Blue Bonnet.”

The next time the urge to eat pie hits or your sweet tooth calls, the Blue Bonnet Cafe awaits you. Instead of the typical Happy Hour, try some pie with good friends. Feeding customers and nurturing souls is what the Blue Bonnet Cafe excels at.

Takeaway

The Blue Bonnet Cafe is open seven days a week, Monday through Thursday (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.), Friday and Saturday (6 a.m. to 9 p.m.), and Sunday (6 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.). The Cafe is located at 211 Highway 281, Marble Falls, Texas 78654, with parking behind the establishment. Checks and cash (no credit cards) are accepted with an ATM on site for customers’ convenience. Pie Happy Hour is available Monday through Friday, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the Cafe, visit www.bluebonnetcafe.net or call (830) 693-2344.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miz Kitty Was the Cat’s Meow in Luckenbach, Texas

This article was written and subsequently published in the Hill Country Sun (2009), a regional Texas magazine. Sadly, Miz Kitty was put to sleep a few years after I wrote about her. In her memory, we will keep the famous Luckenbach cat alive! Thanks to Bobbie McDaniel and Hayden Whittington for being such gracious hosts when we visited.

Willie and Waylon aren’t the only famous ties to Luckenbach, Texas. Miz Kitty is the cool cat presiding over town these days. Proudly known as the most photographed cat in Gillespie County, she’s captured the hearts of Luckenbach’s caretakers and the folks who visit.

Miz Kitty
Miz Kitty

According to Bobbi McDaniel, Luckenbach’s General Store Manager, Miz Kitty showed up in January, 2005. “Some unbeknownst character who obviously didn’t know what they had dumped her on our doorstep.”

A vet confirmed the small feline was about one year of age. Already under the cat’s spell, McDaniel paid for spaying and vaccinations, and named her young protege Miz Kitty.

“Miz Kitty presides over the General Store. She puts herself in every night before the bar closes. Some nights she doesn’t, so she stays out all night. This doesn’t happen often, though. Besides, it’s her job to keep the mouse population at bay!” McDaniel says.

The nonchalant Miz Kitty is known by a few other names. “We call her our ‘Boss’ in the store,” McDaniel winks. “She’s also known as our mascot.” As Miz Kitty lies motionless on a counter or display case, visitors often mistake her for a stuffed animal.

McDaniel explains how Miz Kitty fools customers. “A man came in the store one day, during a pretty busy weekend. He was standing next to a fairly high display cabinet, talking to a couple of his friends. Miz Kitty was laying on top of the cabinet. He had his back to the cabinet and she was reaching out with her paw and very gently tapping his head. He kept brushing his hand over his head like he thought it was a fly or something. She did this three or four times, and everyone else was just watching and laughing! Finally, he turned around and [Miz Kitty] stood up and scared him to death. He jumped and yelled and it was so hilarious. His friends and everyone else in the store just laughed and laughed.”

Folks are naturally drawn to Miz Kitty, and stop to take her picture before doing anything else. “People have been nice enough to send us several pictures that they’ve taken of her while here, and we also find them posted to websites and blogs periodically,” McDaniel says.

Bobbi McDaniel & Miz Kitty
Bobbi McDaniel & Miz Kitty

How does Miz Kitty accept all the love and attention she receives? Very well, according to McDaniel.  “She has been cuddled, coddled, man-handled by small kiddos, chased by dogs, and she’s swiped a few of those dogs across the nose, too.“

Hayden Whittington, another Luckenbach employee, says his dog would agree. “She’s gotten used to him, but if he gets too close, she’ll get him.”

Luckenbach was founded in 1849 as a trading post. The little burg quietly flourished and by 1886, August Engel established a post office within the general store. A cotton gin, blacksmith shop and school were opened between 1879 and 1885.

By 1970, the Engel family put Luckenbach up for sale. Hondo Crouch, Guich Koock and Kathy Morgan purchased the town and worked to put Luckenbach back on the map. In 1973, Jerry Jeff Walker recorded Viva Terlingua in the town’s dance hall. When the legendary album went gold, more musicians flocked to experience Luckenbach’s magic.

Soon after, Waylon Jennings’ and Willie Nelson’s recording “Luckenbach Texas (Back to the Basics)” immortalized the town, enticing tourists from around the world.

Hayden Whittington, Luckenbach's Master of Duh-Fence, & Miz Kitty
Hayden Whittington, Luckenbach's Master of Duh-Fence, & Miz Kitty

Miz Kitty never met Waylon, and Willie hasn’t made it back to Luckenbach in the recent past. However, Paula Nelson (Willie’s daughter) knows Miz Kitty, along with Noel Haggard (Merle’s son), Billy Joe Shaver and Gary P. Nunn. Miz Kitty doesn’t stick around once the music starts, but she enjoys watching musicians set up.

True to type, Miz Kitty successfully hid from McDaniel the morning of her interview. Luckily, Whittington spotted the wily feline, scooping her into his arms as the interview and photography session began.

Luckenbach is all about getting back to the basics in life. The community is casual, friendly and everyone is greeted with open arms and big smiles. Course, any establishment who’d appoint an adopted cat as their “Boss” has to be pretty darn special.

Takeaway

Luckenbach is located in Gillespie County at 412 Luckenbach Town Loop, Fredericksburg, Texas 78624. (The location is off RR 1376, about 10 miles southeast of Fredericksburg.) The community holds regular live music and entertainment events – be sure to sign up for the newsletter, The Luckenbach Moon, to find out what’s going on in town. The General Store is packed with souvenirs and historical displays. There are outdoor seating areas, a bar behind the General Store, and a dance hall. Thursday through Sunday, the Luckenbach Feed Lot serves BBQ, burgers and other fixings beginning at 11 a.m. Luckenbach opens daily at 9 a.m. For more information, call (888) 311-8990 or visit www.luckenbachtexas.com.

 

Facts About Bats: Central Texas Is Full of ‘Em

Mexican Free-Tailed Bats in Central Texas
Mexican Free-Tailed Bats in Central Texas

Central Texas is home to millions of Mexican free-tailed bats, officially called Tadarida brasiliensis. Most people think of the Congress Street Bridge bats when the urge hits to view these tiny creatures. The bats in Austin, Texas, have great crowd appeal which is well-deserved. However, lesser-known bat caves are located in State parks and on private property, making Austin and the surrounding areas major bat observatories.

I’m on my back deck this evening awaiting my nightly visitors. The bats come first as tiny specks. Swiftly they come, flying above the trees in my backyard. Darting and hovering and swirling and diving, the swarm of bats hungrily gobbles and feasts upon insects.

I’m lucky enough to watch a nightly bat brigade fly over my home from the comfort of a deck chair. No crowds or trouble parking here!

I have no idea where my nocturnal friends come from, but they fly in from the northwest. I suspect these Texas bats exit their secret hideaway by the hundreds, maybe even thousands, from a nearby location.

Bats inspire fear. They’ve gotten a bad rap. The truth is, Dracula has nothing on the winged mammals. Central Texas is fortunate to have these ecologically sound creatures. Not only do bats eat insects, but certain species also pollinate flowers, fruits, and vegetables. While you don’t want to handle bats due to the risk of disease, you definitely want them around.

Texas enacted legislation in 1995 pronouncing the Mexican free-tailed bat as the official state flying mammal. It’s estimated that 100 million bats live in Central Texas alone. Bats have hearty appetites – the reason we dig having them around – plucking off an amazing 1,000 tons of insects every night. The Mexican free-tailed bats are largely maternal populations, meaning they are mostly nursing mothers and babies. Certain moths considered to be agricultural pests are delectable, tasty treats for a hungry mama in search of a high protein diet.

It’s easy to attract bats into your garden. Lights, flowering plants and trees, as well as a clean water source are often enough to encourage the critters into your backyard. Night bloomers like Evening Primrose, Night Jessamine, and Moonflower are superior for attracting bats. If you want bats in your garden, however, be sure not to use pesticide. As with any animal, poison doesn’t mix with a flourishing ecosystem.

Have you ever watched bats emerge from a cave?

At dusk, the tiny creatures emerge by the hundreds, then the thousands. Slowly they come out, even shyly, and then, faster and faster, each one following the other on their nightly journey for sustenance. As you stand below the gentle hill where they live, the bats impress and delight as they swirl into the fading sunlight. Darkening the sky like black smoke, this is one event you will always remember.

Texas Bats
Texas Bats

I enjoy the wildlife found in Sunrise Beach, Texas. I dig the eight-point buck with velvety horns that wandered onto the back of my property this morning. He and a doe came to drink out of my Labrador Retriever’s swimming pool. We still see a pair of Cardinals each morning. Seems like they used to leave when it got into the crazy summer heat. This year, they’ve stuck around, much to my surprise. I even spotted a Painted Bunting yesterday evening when my daughter and I lounged on the back deck.

It’s times like these you really appreciate what you have. Sometimes the very best things in life are free.

Nothing against the bats in Austin, but we’ve got it pretty good in the western Hill Country. I sure do dig my bats. It’s been hot the past two months, but the mosquito count is at an all-time low. How about you? What do you think about Texas bats?

Want to read more? Bat Conservation International, Inc. and Texas Caves are excellent resources. Both sites are dedicated to bats in Texas. Texas Tech University also maintains a comprehensive page on Texas bats.

 

If the Rapture Is Coming, Get Some Tonight At Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar

Mosca's Restaurant & Bar on Foodio54

Drive into Sunrise Beach Village, and you’ll see the main areas of commerce. Real estate offices, a general store, a small strip mall called The Corner, and the local eatery. Today, as I drove home from a quick shopping trip in a neighboring town, Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar caught my eye.

“The end is near. Get some tonight.”

Mosca's "Get Some Tonight"
Mosca’s “Get Some Tonight”

There’s a lot to like about Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar, but the sign never factored in. I dig the owners, and I’ve had some good foodie experiences with the restaurant. Coolest thing of all? They deliver. That’s just what a working writer needs when she’s hungry and doesn’t want to cook for herself and her daughter. Service with a smile, every darn time. Fresh, tasty sandwiches, soups, and groovy pasta. It really doesn’t get much better, or easier, when you’re looking for a bite while you write.

Perhaps Mosca’s is using their sign to lure locals in for a Rapture celebration. Maybe everyone in the restaurant will ascend together as they dine. Maybe Mosca’s just wants folks to get some of the menu in a pre-Memorial Day feast. Whatever the intention, I like Mosca’s style.

I’m not going into the whole Rapture debate. I will, however, be sucking down a Dos Equis seasoned with a squeeze of lime, sprinkled with sea salt, and a couple of jalapeno-stuffed olives dunked in, for good measure.

Overlooking Lake LBJ
Overlooking Lake LBJ

Get some tonight!

We hadn’t planned on bringing local Texas news to Big Grey Horse Media…well, not just yet. But with the Rapture snapping at our heels and the end of the world supposedly heralding in at 5 p.m. CDT this afternoon, this is the time to flavor the Horse with some Texas love.

And if the Rapture strikes in a few hours, you bet we will be rejoicing, Mosca’s style. Thanks for the shout-out, Mosca’s!

Visit Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar at 106 Sunrise Drive, Sunrise Beach, Texas 78643. Phone number: 325/388-4774. The owners don’t have a website or Twitter account (yet), but they have plenty of hospitality. During warm weather, customers fill the outdoor deck. Enjoy pure bliss as you dine under the Central Texas moon. (Maybe even the Rapture!)

Mosca's Restaurant & Bar Outdoor Deck
Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar Outdoor Deck

Mosca’s Restaurant & Bar is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Enjoy Happy Hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.