A Weekend at Colorado Bend State Park

Weekend at Colorado Bend State Park

Doesn't it feel good to check things off your bucket list??  Neil has been wanting to go to Colorado Bend State Park for years and we finally went!! We definitely needed a little break from all of our home renovations....and this was the perfect little get away!!

Colorado Bend State Park is about 2 hours from Austin, 3 hours from Dallas/Fort Worth, and 2.5 hours from San Antonio. Definitely close enough for a weekend trip!! Unfortunately it's in the middle of all of the major cities...which is one of the reasons why it's so popular!! It frequently reaches maximum capacity so be sure to book your camping reservations early!! If you're just wanting to visit for the day, then I'd recommend booking a "Save the Day Pass"!! You'd hate to drive out there and it be full!!

Once you get to the park, you have quite the selection of fun activities...keep reading for more info on park activities.

Blueberry Cookies

The blueberry recipes continue...I mean when you pick 8 pounds of blueberries you have a lot of things to make!! We got this recipe from Elfie...I don't know how to describe Elfie...I guess you could say she's like my sister's adopted grandma (not to be confused with my adopted grandma-Aunt Hilda). They didn't really adopt us...they're just nice ladies from church that would spend time with us and teach us about life. Anyway....Elfie gave us this recipe several years ago...and it's amazing!!

Blueberry Delight

I don't even remember where we got this family recipe but we've been making it for years!! I made it this year for Neil and he's in love with it!! I asked him to take it to work so I wasn't tempted to eat it...but he says he doesn't want to share it...hahaha

Blueberry Picking Tips and Recipes

Blueberry picking tips

If you're looking for a new family tradition....add blueberry picking to your list!! Seriously, it's the best tradition ever!! It's relaxing to pick blueberries...a little therapeutic I guess. Plus you can get a ton of blueberries for super cheap!! 

Blueberries are my favorite berries to pick because they're easy!! The bushes are the perfect height so you're not bending over or sitting on the ground to pick them...you can just walk along the bushes and grab a handful!! Super easy, super cheap, and yummy!!

Blueberry Picking Tips
  1. Call some local farms beforehand. Make sure the blueberries are in season (May-July) and compare prices.  I've picked blueberries for $1 a pound (rare) but I've also picked them for $3.75 a pound. I feel like $3.75 is a little pricey...but it's still cheaper than the store!!
  2. Pack some water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and maybe even a hat.  You're probably only going to pick for a few hours but it can get hot fast. 
  3. Don't forget to bring cash!! A lot of the smaller farms aren't going to take credit cards...in fact most of the farms I go to are based on the honor system. They just have a weigh station and a box for you to drop your money in afterwards. So don't forget cash!! 
  4. Bring your own bucket. Most farms will give you a "picking bucket" with a rope around it...that way your hands are free for picking and the bucket just hangs around your neck/arm like a purse. It's nice to have your own bucket though so that you can empty your "picking bucket" when it gets too heavy and then you can use it to transport the blueberries home in. Large farms will give you a bag to carry the blueberries home in...but I've been to several that don't have anything for you. Plus the bags seem to squish the blueberries on the drive home.  I hate working for hours and then seeing my blueberries squished...protect your blueberries and bring a bucket!!
  5. Don't just pick any berries you can find...pick good ones!! Seriously...don't just grab a bushel of blueberries if there's only one good one in the bushel. I like the big light-blue blueberries (try saying that 10 times fast)...they're the best!! Don't pick blueberries that have red, purple, or green on them...they're not ripe yet!! Remember...big light-blue blueberries are the best!!
  6. Try not to get the stems on the blueberries. You'll have to pick them out later so I just prefer to "pick them right the first time".

Where to pick blueberries? 

I'd start by looking on Google for some U-Pick Farms in your area. I'd even be willing to drive an hour or so to get to a good farm...make a mini day trip out of it. I'm normally in Michigan visiting my family during blueberry season so I like to go to U-Pick Blueberries Farm in Benton Harbor (3209 E. Empire St). Next year I'm going to be in Austin for blueberry season so I'm going to try Kingsbury Blueberry Farms. Unfortunately it's about a 90 minute drive from Austin...so if you know of anything closer please let me know!! 

What to do with all of the blueberries?

You're probably wondering what to do with pounds and pounds of blueberries?? Easy solution...you clean them and make 3 piles. One pile is just for you to snack on. The second pile is for blueberry recipes and the third pile is for you to freeze. My mom always froze the majority of the blueberries we picked so she could use them year round for smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods! 

Pro-Freezing Tip: Wash the blueberries, dry them on a cookie sheet for a few hours, put the cookie sheet in the freezer for a few hours, and then add the frozen blueberries to a freezer bag. My mom says it helps keep the blueberries from sticking together....seems to work so she must be right!! 

Now let's go back to your second pile of blueberries for recipes...this is the best part of blueberry picking!! My two favorite blueberry recipes are Blueberry Delight, Blueberry Cookies, and Blueberry Pie!! 

I'd love to hear what some of your favorite recipes are...maybe I can give them a try next year!! 

Palo Duro Canyon and Caprock Canyon

Everyone's heard about the Grand Canyon...but what about the second largest canyon in the country?? Well it's right here in Texas...The Palo Duro Canyon!! Palo Duro Canyon is about a 7.5 hour drive from Austin and about a 6 hour drive from Dallas....the perfect spring break trip!! Anything under 8 hours is an easy road trip in my opinion...after 8 hours and it starts to get unbearable. We broke up the drive a little by stopping in Abilene for a quick lunch at Lucy's Big Burgers (yummy) and a caffeine refill at Monk's Coffee Shop (super cute coffee shop).

Creamed Corn

My husband LOVES creamed corn, so I decided to make him some myself. I took several recipes and combined them all together...here's what I came up with:

4 cups frozen corn
1 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp butter
8 oz cream cheese
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Add all of the ingredients to a crock pot and cook on high for 2-4 hours. It's a super easy recipe and it's really good!! My husband says it's his favorite...but then again he might just be saying that...hahaha 

Roller Coasters-Grief Group

Have you ever started a project...gotten completely overwhelmed and then decided you should just take a time out from the project?? You're not really giving up...just putting it on the back burner while you regroup??  Well that's how this post started!! Last year (yes...I took a yearlong timeout) I wrote Starting a Grief Group...but then I never wrote about how to actually have a grief group. Honestly I had so much I wanted to share about grief that it was overwhelming!! But I've got a whole day free...and a large chai...so let's do this!!

Treat Yo Self-Teacher Training

If you have a teacher training/professional development day coming up, then you seriously need to do have a session over self-care!! This time of the year is super stressful...everyone is talking data, the kids are getting antsy for spring break, and patience is running thin...I mean we're past the 100 day mark and still repeating the same instructions as day 1...it's exhausting!! This is the perfect time of the year to remind teachers to take a little break, recharge their batteries, and relax a little...they deserve it!! This one hour session discusses the importance of self-care, provides teachers with a list of positive coping strategies, provides multiple stations for teachers to practice self-care  (approximately 30 minutes total), and a self-care action plan for the next month.

Tips for Living in a Small Apartment

Tips for Living in a Small Apartment

Are you looking at moving into a small apartment?? Needing some ideas on how to help save space?? Well I had a similar situation...Neil (my amazing hubby) and I really wanted to live downtown Austin for a year. We thought it would be a fun little adventure!! After looking for apartments we finally settled on one just off Lady Bird Lake...not downtown but close enough. We LOVE the location and it's been a great little adventure...but our space is tiny!! Maybe not as tiny as living in like New York City...but it's about 600 sq ft!! That's tiny for us!! Before we got married, I was living in an 800 sq ft apartment and Neil was living in a rental house. We were both downsizing...and moving in together...and wedding gifts were arriving daily!! We had to come up with a game plan....here's what's worked for us:

Wedding Registry Items for Couples in Their 30's

Wedding Registry Items for Couples in their 30s

Why is it so hard to put together a wedding registry?? I mean if I had gotten married right out of college...it would've been sssoo much easier!! I graduated college with 2 plastic bowls and 2 plastic plates...I could've created a wedding registry with 1000 things back then.  But I didn't get engaged until like 7 years after college!! By that time I'd gotten a real job, moved into a real apartment, taught myself to cook something other than ramen noodles, and bought some decent kitchen/household items.

White Chicken Chili

If you aren't already aware of this...Neil and I are in a soup phase!! It's cold out and soup is just perfect!! And out of all of the soups we've been eating...this is our favorite!! It's yummy and super easy to make!!