don’t mess with (austin) texas

don’t mess with (austin) texas

I had the pleasure of visiting Austin, Texas about a week ago.  What a great town!

Some friends of ours were getting married and we decided to make a long weekend of it.  We stayed at the historic Driskill Hotel right in the heart of downtown.  What a beautiful place, and over 100 years old!

Driskill Historic Hotel Austin Texas

Driskill Hotel Entrance

Driskill Hotel Bar Austin Texas

 

Some awesome things about Austin….

– The Food: Delicious restaurants everywhere!  You must try the Magnolia Cafe.  Those are fudge brownie pancakes below.  Yikes!  I mean, YUM!

Magnolia Cafe Austin TX

 

– The Food Trucks: They are on practically every corner.  I seriously had one of the best burgers of my life from a food truck.  (Sorry no photo.  I gobbled it up before I could take one!)

 

– The Bars: They are everywhere.  This is a party town (home of the University of Texas).  Drink up.  This bartender had a gun of tequila…Only in Texas.

Bar Gun Moscow Mule

 

– The Bats: You have to see it to believe it.  http://youtu.be/2g6DLECHdL4

 

– The Art:  Amazing art everywhere.  Especially on out South Congress St.

Willy Wonka Art Quote

Austin Elvis Dillo

(Both pieces above found at Prima Dora on S. Congress St.)

Have I convinced you to go visit Austin yet?  I can’t wait to go back!

Heather Johnson - The Creative Stack

mountain getaway

mountain getaway

This past weekend I had a quick getaway to the mountains with my family.  We rented a cabin near Brevard, NC the land of waterfalls…and home of white squirrels!  No, I’m not kidding.  They even have a White Squirrel Festival every year!

CedarMountianCabin

The cabin we rented was actually in Cedar Mountain about 15 minutes from Brevard.  It was tucked away in the woods and all around the back were trails, a stream and waterfall.  The owners had set up chairs and swings in little nooks around the river.  It was awesome.  We could even hear the waterfall from the back porch!

Waterfall_CedarMountainCabin

 

On Saturday, we took a quick drive over to DuPont State Forest to check out some of their waterfalls – much bigger than the one in our backyard!

HookerFalls_DuPontStateForest

TripleFalls_DuPontStateForest

Above is Hooker Falls and then Triple Falls where the Hunger Games scene of Katniss nearly stepping on Peeta was filmed.

BoatMadeofLeavesAndSticks

Back at the house we had boat races in the stream out back.  Check out the awesome boat my brother made out of a Rhododendron leaf and a few sticks!   We had a great time and will be back to this area again soon for sure!  Here is a pic of my little sis and me…..12 years younger!  She makes me feel old everyday, ha.

Sisters

 

Do you have any favorite mountain getaway spots?

Heather Johnson - The Creative Stack

aloha hawaii and mahalo

aloha hawaii and mahalo

I recently wrote and said that I was traveling to the amazing state of Hawaii.  Well I have to say, it was one trip that I will remember for the rest of my life.  Not only the beautiful sights, but the amazing time that I had with my sister.  You are my world, baby!

yachting yogini

This year at Christmas, I got the biggest surprise!  My sister had created a scavenger hunt for me!

Gift 1:  A tank top
Gift 2:  Long Island Medium’s Book
Gift 3: Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen (this is when I was getting a bit confused)
Gift 4: a note telling me to go to the computer screen and turn it on – to a screen saying, “SURPRISE – We are going to HAWAII!  Last single sisters getaway”  I don’t think I could form words for about 10 minutes.   Let me tell you that there was not a dry eye in the house as my mom, dad and sister had followed me around doing my scavenger hunt, video camera in hand!

SUCH an amazing sister!

Well, one week after getting home, I am back in my office, listening to the Hawaiian Radio Station streaming and ready to share pictures from my trip!  We ate the most amazing food, watched HUGE waves on the north shore, visited the big island (we were staying on Ohau), and saw places that literally take your breath away.

If you go to Hawaii get ready and bring your running shoes, the food there is out of this world.  If you like to eat… you are in for a treat!

One of our favorite places is Kona Brewing Company – or Kona Brew.  If you make it there, you have to get the pork nachos and a beer sampler – just trust me!  They have multiple locations, we visited the one on Ohau as well as the original brewery on Big Island.  GREAT times, good food, local music… a must see!

kona brewing companykona brewing company

 

Another restaurant I had to go back to was Haleiwa Joe’s.  We went to this place on a previous trip and I knew I had to go back.  It has a great atmosphere, great views and the food…. just trust me.  The Black and Blue tuna is a must!

haleiwa joes

 

And finally, if you are going to Ohau, you kind of have to go to Duke’s Waikiki named after the father of surfing, Duke.  The best time to go is on a Sunday afternoon!  You are right in the center of waikiki, walking distance to all kinds of fun shopping and more restaurants and bars.  You never know who you will run into… we saw Dog the Bounty Hunter, he was having a birthday party, so I didn’t barge in for a photo, but it was fun to see someone so well known.  We stopped in to Duke’s to get a few pupus (appetizers) and of course the Duke’s Mai Tai – just check out the cup it comes in!

Duke's waikiki

Speaking of surfers…  I flew in town the PERFECT time to see the big waves.  The day I got there, they were 50 feet…. INSANE!  We went up the next day and caught some 35-40 foot waves.  Still very impressive!  To see the waves you head up to the north east side of the Island… or the North Shore.

north shore waves

If you look closely in this next picture, it puts it all into perspective… In the top center of the photo, you will see three small white lines coming off the wave… those are surfers…The white is the wake, the guy is the tiny black dot…. crazy!

north shore waves

Here is one guy walking back after going for a surf… these guys have nerves of steel!

north shore surfer

The last few days of our trip we went to Big Island.  After being on Ohau for a few days, Big Island seems HUGE.  You can drive for miles and miles and miles… and we did!  We flew into Kailua Kona (West side) and drove around to see other areas including where the volcano is and Hilo (East Side).  I strongly suggest checking out multiple islands while you are in Hawaii.  They are all so different and beautiful in their own way.  On the flight over Abbi referred to the big Island as a masculine island, meaning it did not have nearly as many flowers… man was she right.

big island lava rock

 

Lava rock like this pretty much made up the island… It was everywhere.

On big Island I wore my lei!  I had a ginger lei that smelled more beautiful than it looks.  It is my favorite and I was so excited when my sister had this one for me!

hawaiian lei

Also on the big island we saw the oldest church on any of the islands located right in the middle of “downtown ” Kona.

oldest hawaiian churchand  rainbow falls right outside of downtown hilo.  I wish we could have had a clearer day, but…  beautiful nontheless.

rainbow falls

 

I could go on and on, but will end the post with some of the beautiful sights… They literally took my breath away and I can’t wait to go back and see them all again!

Sunset on Lanikai Beach

 
http://www.gohawaii.com/big-island/regions-neighborhoods/hilo/wailuku-state-park

 

 

 

Sandy path to Kailua BeachKailua beach

 

Coastline drive – note this is not a “scenic drive” just a road you can take to get home.

 

coastline drive

 

view overlooking the waves of North Shore

north shore spiritual ground

A walk around the resort we stayed at in Kona (Big Island)

sheraton kona hawaii

and a sunset we caught driving back to our resort as we were heading out of downtown Kona.

kona sunset

Mahalo and A hui hou.

Thank you and Goodbye, Until we meet again.

hawaiian love t-shirt

Mandi Heilig - Dry Ink Designs

 

 

 

christmas trees in boone, nc

christmas trees in boone, nc

Hi friends! A few weeks ago, I shared about our preparations for a 3 week trip to India. Well the universe disagreed. After a six week visa battle, lost passports at the Indian Embassy in Atlanta, and chat with the Ambassador General our passport were finally recovered. However, in haste they forgot to process the visa paperwork! The Indian visa processing is, ironically, outsourced.

We can only laugh about it now!!

india NYTimes

India in NYTimes

We were disappointed, but did not skip a beat. My husband booked us a quaint cottage built over a babbling creek in Boone, North Carolina for a week. We each only had a backpack full of clothes for India. For me, this meant layers of tank tops and leggings. It’s quite a stylish look in 30 degree weather! So we cuddled to stay warm in front of the wood burning stove and everyday I wished for beautiful, white snow!!

Boone_Fireplace

apple cider bellinis

What do do in Boone? LOTS!! In fact, many people pour into Boone for their annual, family Christmas tree hunt. They go to tree farms to pick out and then chop down their own trees!! #chooseandcut

@laurenrdhall

@laurenrdhall

Here are some of our favorite haunts and activities in this sleepy mountain town:

GET OUTDOORS:

EATS:

  • Breakfast – Hob Nob Farms Cafe – local, fresh, slow food
  • Lunch – Coyote Kitchen – a Caribbean spin on soul food; keyword: sweet potato fries
  • Lunch – Black Cat Burrito – a Boone staple
  • Dinner – Gamekeeper – the men in your life will love you FOREVER; offer bison, ostrich, elk, and other game-centric dishes

DRINKS:

LOCAL SHOPPING:

  • Various Antique Shops – many offering appalachia crafts & gifts
  • Footslogger – outdoor gear & boots with active climbing wall (40+ ft)
  • Be sure to stop at the quirky roadside shops for local jerky, produce, & oddball pictures

Boone_Icicle

We didn’t chop down a Christmas tree during our week in Boone, but we are busy decorating our house in downtown Charleston for the season!!

Holiday Sparkles,

Stella