Archive of ‘TRAVEL’ category

End-of-Summer Getaway! Girls’ Trip to Horseshoe Bay

A quick girls trip before school starts -- Often Charming

We’re a few weeks away from the start of first grade. It’s 100 degrees outside every day.  We have a six-month-old golden retriever puppy who likes to bite us, and my in-laws are living with us until closing on their house later this month. Who needs a little vacation?

Now, in defense of my in-laws, they are lovely people and we are happy they are staying with us. But it does make the house a lot busier than usual, and the dog has been even more excited than normal as a result.  Excited dog = bitey dog. In defense of Sunny, the aforementioned bitey hound, she is a retriever and always wants to have something in her mouth. She’s still a puppy, and is still learning that she can’t just chomp us when she wants to play.  Or when she greets you. Or when you’re just sitting there trying to drink your coffee/put on shoes/wear pajamas.

Sunny, the Bitey Dog in Question -- Often Charming

She’s lucky she’s so cute.

Sunny particularly likes to play with our daughter. They are roughly the same height and weight now, and Lark makes lots of loud noises, so Sunny naturally (and correctly) thinks she is the most fun member of the family. She likes to grab Lark by the skirt or shoes, or mash the toy she’s carrying into Lark’s back/stomach/ribs when she wants to play, which is pretty much all the time.  Lark does not want to play all the time. It can be a bit overwhelming when an animal as big as you are is always coming after you, full of puppy energy. I get it. I thought she could use a little humans-only time.

Since getting Sunny, Lark has asked me a few times if Sunny is more important than she is. Ouch.

I’ve explained that Sunny is a baby and needs a lot of attention right now, but that things won’t always be this way. Although Lark was excited to get a puppy, this addition to the family has been a big adjustment for her. I thought Lark might like a few days of our undivided attention, so I did some research on a quick little trip we could take without too much effort. First, I checked into the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort, which is only about 45 minutes from us. We stayed a night there last year when my husband spoke at a conference, and we loved the lazy river and nightly s’mores. Unfortunately, their rooms were running about $400 per night for the dates I checked, which sucked the fun right out of that idea.  That was when I found a great deal on Groupon for the Horseshoe Bay Resort: $119 per night with a two night minimum. Go, Groupon!

I’d never been there before, but reviews of the resort indicated it was very family-friendly, with tropical birds, four swimming pools to choose from, and most importantly, s’mores. In addition, the resort is just an hour’s easy drive away from our house. I asked Lark if she’d like to go stay at a holiday house with Mommy and Grandma for a few days, to swim and eat s’mores and leave the boys and dog at home. “YES!!” she said. And off we went.

First Stop: swimming!  The kids' pool area features a zero-depth entry and fun fountains. --  Often Charming

That’s a happy girl.

The kids’ pool area is immediately next to a larger, family pool with great shade in the late afternoon. The very nice lady working the oh-so-conveniently located bar adjacent to the pool made me a fantastic grown-up lemonade to enjoy by the water, which is really what resorts are all about, aren’t they?

Fancy grown-up lemonade by the pool at Horseshoe Bay Resort. -- Often Charming

Yes. Yes, they are.

But this is a family place, so the little one got a pink lemonade of her own. It was not as much fun as mine, I’ll wager, but she loved it.

The pink lemonade gets a thumbs up at Horseshoe Bay Resort -- Often Charming

After all that swimming, we had a little down time in the room.  Thanks to Peppa Pig, Lark refers to all hotels as “holiday houses”, which I find adorable. That kid loves a good holiday house.  The beds were comfy, the pillows were fluffy; the snuggle time with my little bear was priceless.

A silly selfie from our girls' getaway to Horseshoe Bay Resort. These are the best travel souvenirs. -- Often Charming

Occasionally, because we’ve arrived late and tired, we have had meals in our hotel rooms when we’ve traveled with Lark. She loves this.  Here she is perusing the menu for Room Service.

The little one reviews her options on the menu for Room Service. I've created a monster.  -- Often Charming

I’ve raised a child who loves resorts and room service.  I may be in serious trouble here.

We did not have room service this time.  I was smart and packed lots of snacks for the room, including some little mini muffins for just this sort of emergency.  After muffins, we went to visit the birds.

You can meet the birds and learn more about them at Whitewater, Horseshoe Bay Resort's busy activity center. -- Often Charming

There are several kinds of tropical birds at the resort, and you can meet some of them at Whitewater, the activity center.  A staff member gives a talk on the birds each morning.  Some of the birds give their own talk, as well!  Here I’m holding Gracie, a friendly cockatoo.

The birds at Horseshoe Bay Resort are friendly. Very friendly! -- Often Charming

Very friendly! She was making her way up onto my head when the resort staff stopped her.

I look like a pirate, don’t I?

More friendly parrots at Horseshoe Bay Resort. -- Often Charming

Mingo, the resort’s flamingo, was not quite awake for the morning’s bird talk, but she still looked lovely. And check out the giant African tortoise that lumbered by! Pretty neat!

Mingo the Flamingo and a giant African tortoise at Horseshoe Bay Resort! -- Often Charming

Then we got back into the pool.  The Yacht Club pool, this time.  Can you blame us?

The Yacht Club Pool at Horseshoe Bay Resort -- Often Charming

A break for ice cream…

A break for ice cream after swimming. Ah, the resort life! -- Often Charming

But most importantly: the s’mores!  Lark finally listened to me about toasting her marshmallow and squishing it between the graham crackers and chocolate.  She only ever wanted the chocolate and marshmallow separately before.

The s'mores are a hit at Horseshoe Bay Resort -- Often Charming

Yay! She loves them! Maybe Mom knows a thing or two, after all!

If you’re looking for a nice little getaway within easy each of Austin, I highly recommend Horseshoe Bay Resort.  I didn’t intend to write about this trip when we went, so the photos that I took were really just meant to capture the fun we had there for our own memories.

Girls' Getaway at Horseshoe Bay Resort -- Often Charming

Thumbs Up for the Horseshoe Bay Resort -- Often Charming

I think we’ll be back.  Hope to see you there, too. Take some time to make a few last-minute summer memories of your own before the school year starts. It’s well worth the trip!

Heather's Signature -- Often Charming

Note: This is not a sponsored post. Links provided in this post are purely meant to be helpful.


Road Trip: Canton Trade Days

Postcard from Canton, TX Trade Days

London. Paris. Rome. Canton, TX.

What was that? One of these things is not like the others? True. But just because it isn’t a far-flung, exotic destination doesn’t mean it ain’t worth the trip, y’all.

Wow. Did I really just say that? Hang on, let me just tuck my Texas back in…there we go.

We who live in the real world can’t always take off for the glamorous cities of Europe. Time and budgets constrain us to stay closer to home most of the time. But hey: travel is travel and getting away for a fun weekend once in a while is definitely on my To Do list. So, off to Canton we go.

Why Canton? Because of First Monday Trade Days, that’s why! Imagine: acres of shopping, with everything from home decor to craft supplies, antiques, clothes, jewelry, holiday decorations, repurposed/upcycled vintage material, old architectural salvage, you name it! You never know quite what you’re going to find. And they do it every month!

Vintage chenille bedspreads make beautiful stuffed animals and pillows at Canton Trade Days. -- Often Charming

Vintage chenille bedspreads make beautiful stuffed animals and pillows in this vendor’s sweet shop.

This shop is full of vintage and reproduction fabrics and crafts made from them. It’s wonderful to see these beautiful things get a new lease on life.

Vintage Halloween display at Canton Trade Days -- Often Charming

These stuffed pumpkins are also made of vintage chenille fabrics, something this vendor specializes in.

Who likes china? Here’s my favorite:

Spode Woodland China display at Canton Trade Days.  Just gorgeous! -- Often Charming

Spode Woodland china features game birds, wildlife and hunting dogs surrounded by a floral border which has been in production since 1831.

Danna’s Home Decor, located in Arbor Boardwalk 1, has the most beautiful displays of china you will see at Trade Days. This is where I first saw the Spode Woodland pattern and every time we go to Canton, I pop in to pick up a piece or two. Lucky for me, she often has them on sale. This stuff is absolutely gorgeous, and it makes me laugh just a tiny bit. English china with golden retrievers on it? Yes! You should see my platter featuring the Atlantic Salmon. He’s one handsome devil.

Spode Woodland China at Canton Trade Days -- Often Charming

This is a big shop for a single Trade Days vendor, occupying not one but two spaces, and it is jam packed with fantastic china, as well as beautiful accessories and ornaments for your home. They have several lovely chandeliers at the far end of the shop. You will almost certainly find something there that you can’t leave without. Ms. Cindy and the rest of the ladies running the place are absolutely the sweetest and if you can’t fit all of your gorgeous china purchases in your wheelie bag, they’ll hold them for you until the end of the day. Go see them and tell ‘em I said hi.

My friend Traci and I go to Trade Days a few times a year. It’s really fun to see what the trends are: one trip it was great big monograms on everything, another time deco mesh wreaths and garlands were all over the place. It’s always fun to go before the holidays, too. Not only will you find super cute decorations and fun gift items, but you can just feast your eyes on the beautiful vendor booths and displays, and get some inspiration for things you can do yourself, if you’re the crafty type.

And I AM.

Now, the October Trade Days are not to be missed, because you get all of the awesome seasonal Fall stuff, as well as a good amount of Christmas stuff. The weather is generally pretty nice, too.

Vintage was the big trend for Halloween items. We saw a TON of retro/vintage-style Halloween decorations. Several vendors had baseball ringer t-shirts with vintage Halloween images screen printed on them, too. One of the best things about the vintage trend is that it brings back the excitement of Halloween you felt as a kid. Remember how much you looked forward to wearing your costume and going to parties or trick-or-treating? I LOVED Halloween as a kid, and these old-school decos are sweetly spooky.

Halloween decorations have gone vintage this year at Canton Trade Days. I love this trend! -- Often Charming

Vintage themes add charm and nostalgia to Halloween decorations this season.

Some vendor displays will just knock your socks off, like this one. No matter the season, their shop is just gorgeous.

Holiday and home decor finds abound at Canton Trade Days. Ready to go yet? -- Often Charming

This vendor’s shop, in Pavilion II, is one of the most beautiful at Canton Trade Days.

We found plenty of Halloween craft supplies and decorations outdoors, between the Arbors buildings and the antiques. If you are a fan of deco mesh wreaths and beautiful, sparkly stuff in general, this shop is a must.

Halloween decos at Canton Trade Days -- Often Charming

How adorable are these witch legs? We saw them sticking out of pumpkins and Halloween wreaths. So cute.

Tons of Halloween decos and craft supplies at Canton Trade Days -- Often Charming

Picks with sparkly witch hats, bats and ghosts just waiting to embellish a Halloween project. Everything you might want for a wreath is right here in one shop.

In Arbor Walk III, we found a new shop called Twinkles, which has the most fabulous hats you will find anywhere. Ms. Linda, the owner and creator of these fantastic creations, is just the nicest little lady. Traci and I had SO much fun in this shop, trying things on.

Twinkles Halloween Hats and Masks at Canton Trade Days -- Often Charming

Spectacular holiday hats and more await you at Twinkles, in Arbor Walk III.

If a full-sized witch hat is too much for you, go with a smaller version on a headband.

Halloween Headbands at Twinkles in Arbor Walk III, Canton Trade Days -- Often Charming

I bought the one on the left, with the silver sparkly spider and maribou feathers. I feel like the Princess of Halloween in it.

Fancy holiday fascinators abound at Twinkles shop in Arbor Walk III, Canton Trade Days -- Often Charming

Thanks, Twinkles!

Traci bought a headband topped with a sparkly haunted house, which actually lights up inside. It is beyond fabulous.

This haunted house fascinator from Twinkles was worth the trip to Canton all by itself! Canton Trade Days -- Often Charming

Speaking of fabulous, let’s just have a look at some of the spectacular Christmas displays we saw at Trade Days.

Winter white Christmas display at Canton Trade Days -- Often Charming

Look at all that wintry white fabulousness, so snowy and sparkly. This was in the shop with all the witch legs and cool wreath-making stuff. So was this:

Trimming your tree with gorgeous seasonal ribbon is definitely on trend this holiday. -- Often Charming

There’s a tree somewhere under all of that red and white cheer. I think.

One of the big trends I noticed at Trade Days and have seen in almost all of this year’s holiday catalogs is wide ribbon looped in among the ornaments on Christmas trees. It’s like a big ribbon garland. Two- and three-inch wide ribbon with holiday sentiments are especially popular. My favorite is the chalkboard-style ribbon done this way.  I was really tempted to bring some home from Trade Days, but I worried that the black would overwhelm our tree’s silver-and-gold palette. It was really cool, though.

We're loving this festive combination of plaid with ribbon in non-traditional grey and black stripes this Christmas -- Often Charming

We also loved this mix of traditional Christmas plaid ribbon with this grey and black, almost Addams family-style stripe! This is so much fun! Add this eclectic combination of old-fashioned and modern to the stag head silhouettes we’re seeing on everything lately, and there is definitely a playful, rustic trend happening in holiday decor this year.  There were a lot of stag heads at Trade Days this trip. A LOT.

There were also a lot of the time-honored, traditional symbols of the season, of course. We saw a ton of adorable snowmen in lots of different materials. Here’s a whole tree devoted to them.

Christmas display at Canton Trade Days -- Often Charming

Now, those people who said that ‘getting there is half the fun’ weren’t talking about Canton, let me tell you. It’s a long, boring stretch of nothing* on I35 from Austin to the turnoff for Trade Days. That’s why you’ve got to take a friend.

*The exception to this is the very lovely Collin Street Bakery, which is really a mandatory stop if you are anywhere near it.  Stop there for lunch and get a lemonade and a freshly made deli sandwich. The staff is incredibly nice and friendly. Then, before you go forth up I35, make your way on over to their great big pastry case full of BEAUTIFUL, DELICIOUS COOKIES, CAKES, BROWNIES AND PASTRIES. You can’t go wrong no matter what you choose. Trust me.

There’s so much more I could tell you about Trade Days, but this post has been long enough and you really need to see it for yourself. Not only are you sure to find some great things, you will meet some lovely people. Half the fun we have every time we go comes from the encounters we have with vendors and other shoppers. There are certain vendors we make a point of visiting each time we go, and you know what? They remember us!

So, ready to head for Canton yet? I’ll see you there in the Spring.


Heather's Signature -- Often Charming