Romania: Friends, Food, and War Relief Efforts

Before visiting Romania, I never really thought about traveling there. It wasn’t at the top of my bucket list (although very few places aren’t somewhere on the list). I knew very little about the country and its culture.

I’m always up for an adventure, though, so when our friends, Peter and Estzer, invited us to visit their home country of Romania with them in 2019, we weren’t about to pass up the opportunity to travel with locals.

Here’s what I knew about Romania before our visit:


Life in Watercolor

Artist Profile: Watercolor Artist Mary Skow

Watercolor artist Mary Skow didn’t always think of herself as an artist. She taught art and even served as the resident artist at St. Thomas Episcopal School for several years, but still, she says, “I’d shy away from calling myself an artist. For the longest time, I held back. I think a lot of women do that; it can be hard to put ourselves out there.”


Antique Shopping in Huntsville, Texas

Getting That Déjà vu Feeling while Antique Shopping in Huntsville, Texas

You never know what you’ll find when you go antiquing!

Huntsville, Texas, is home to Sam Houston State University (my alma mater), the Fair on the Square, and best of all, plenty of antique shopping. If you are looking for fun finds, Fiesta pottery, vintage vinyl, or any kind of collectible, this growing town is worth visiting.


Hiking for Health (And fun!)

Why 52 hikes?
It’s a question I get almost every time I post a picture tagged #52hikechallenge2021. The short answer is that I’m hiking for health—and because it’s fun.

Life had zapped my mental energy before 2020 even started. Setting any goal felt out of reach. We were still very much in transition in our return from Ireland. I was not in a good place—well, except for the new grandbaby thing. I was in a great place about being a Gigi. When Covid restrictions kept me from roaming, what had seemed difficult suddenly felt impossible.


Taco Tuesday (Hooray!)

Taco Tuesday. I love that this corner of the world is so into tacos and alliteration that we celebrate almost every Tuesday with tacos.

What’s for dinner? It’s Tuesday. Of course, we’re having tacos.

I’m happy to have tacos any day of the week—or several days of the week. In a row. Today is Tuesday, so I thought I’d share a few of my very favorite taco spots.


Celebrating Freedom & Fireworks!

Fourth of July fireworks and foodie traditions are the best!

I love fireworks on the 4th of July. I don’t love setting them off myself or even having sparklers or Roman candles for the kids. But I LOVE watching them burst in the sky and being close enough to feel the booms and crackles as they explode.

Fireworks are my favorite.


Hiking in Bastrop State Park

It has been almost 10 years since the devastating 2011 wildfire. When hiking in Bastrop State Park, you notice things still aren’t back to normal. Recovery takes time.

I can’t believe it has been almost ten years since the 2011 wildfire that swept across the Bastrop State Park and surrounding areas. The fire ravaged 32,000-plus acres, killed two people, and destroyed more than 1,600 homes.

In 2021, the scars left by the fire still mark the landscape. Bare, blackened trees stand over fresh, green vegetation. Smaller loblolly pines, finally almost double my height, offer little shade to hikers on the trails. But the new growth contrasted against the reminders of the fire creates a beautiful scene.


Making Moonshine a Family Affair

Tennessee moonshine has a notorious reputation, but sometimes it’s just good business. For the Kelley’s, Branchwater Moonshine is a family affair. 

While roaming through Tennessee, the abundance of billboards advertising distilleries—both whiskey and moonshine—caught my attention. The names and  labels evoke an obvious sense of pride both in craftsmanship and in their home state, something that I can appreciate as a Texan. So taking the long way home, my friend and I stopped in at Branchwater Moonshine Distillery in Winchester, TN, for a tour. Purely for educational purposes, of course.

Roaming through Tennessee we found Branchwater Moonshine Distillery in Winchester, and got a lesson in history, family, and sipping.