Antique Finds and Dream Homes in Cameron and Thorndale TX

The post earlier this week only had the first half of our Saturday excursion. The other half resulted in a restyling of my office.

Office Restyle with Antique MirrorI realize that I’m getting a little ahead of myself but I was dying to show it off. Plus, look at the the gorgeous bust from RH that Nate gave me. Absolutely gorgeous (and totally on sale)! Anyway, we stopped off at the little town of Thorndale Texas to check out their main street and antiquing.

Thorndale Antiques

Boy oh boy, did we hit the jackpot! The women in front, Lily, owns this store and four others on main street. While not everything in every store is a treasure, she has tons and tons of antique furniture and she’s “looking to make deals” with anyone who comes along. Ah, if only we needed more antique chairs.

Thorndale Antiques

This was only part of one of her stores so one could easily spend a whole day searching through her items for treasure. I found my turn of the century mirror at the second store hidden in the back so it’s worth looking around for sure. She also has a store with part of amazing original tin ceiling and seemed like she’s be willing to part with some of it.  Architectural salvage anyone?

Thorndale Architectural Salvage

Twenty minutes down the road we arrived at our final destination: Cameron Texas. Why would we spend hours moseying up to this little town? Because of this:

Cameron Grammar School

I found this gem while I was searching for homes in Austin. Somehow this ended up in my search results and I just had to go and see it for myself. This 1895 charmer is absolutely beautiful. Better than imagined. And the crazy thing is that its’ only $275k- for 5 bed and 3.5 bath with a pool on two acres. Do you need to see it from another angle? I agree.

 Cameron Texas Grammar school

Oh and did I mention that it has a gourmet kitchen and a swimming pool in the back? Check out the listing HERE while you try to keep from drooling. Oh if only I had the inclination to run a B&B…

And lest you think that this house is the only charming thing in Cameron, you must look at this home also for sale.

Cameron texas Historic Home

Named the Magnolia house, she’s a little bit more cash (and not as much my style) but she has been completely re-done and is absolutely stunning.

Magnolia House

This is the only semi-decent photo that I can find but it shows some of the gorgeous woodwork in the home. This is an absolutely beautiful home and even registered on the Texas Historical Register. The location is across a main road from the amazingly beautiful Milam County courthouse.

Cameron Courthouse

Across the street you’ll find another old building with some historical markers. This is the most awesome historical marker in Texas because who doesn’t want to be part of an organization named the “Girls Tomato club”?

Historical Marker Tomato Club

After reading about tomato clubs and seeing dream homes, it was time to head back home so we saddled up, proverbially speaking, and headed back home. But no trip to rural Texas would be complete without tasting some of the local fare. So back to Thorndale we went for some grub at the Downtown Cafe.

Thorndale Downtown Cafe

Yes, the fried chicken is huge and amazing. And those onion rings are “chicken fried” as well, so excuse me while I head to the gym.

Sculpture Gardens and Architecture in Coupland and Taylor Texas

So we love Texas. And not just a little. While we love traveling to big cities (we’ll post more on that later) we find the small towns of Texas to be down right charming. So we headed up Highway 79 to take a break from the city. We headed northeast from our beloved Austin, and first hit the extremely small but surprising Coupland, TX. If you blink once, you’ll miss this little town but it’s worth stopping in for this:

Huntington Sculpture Gardens.

Coupland Huntington Sculpture Garden

This town of less than 1500 people has what I’d describe as a modern Stonehenge. And its huge, especially when you compare it to the rest of the small town. Here’s a little clip to show some scale:

You could spend hours in this garden looking at each unique sculpture. And what’s wonderful is that the garden is free- donations are accepted but no one will kick you out for taking pictures or staying awhile. Perfect place for some awesome photography. It’s a cool modern oasis in the traditional Texas countryside and definitely worth the 30 minute drive.

Huntington Sculpture Gardens

After heading down the road a’ piece (as many texans have been known to say), we made a quick stop in Taylor, TX and drooled over some of the gorgeous homes and buildings there. 

Taylor TX Home

Those columns. I die. And the roof. Holy hannah. All she needs is a little landscaping love and a new driveway and she’d be good as new.

Taylor TX House 2This was another favorite that we found just a couple blocks over. The stained glass+picture window+ porch with columns almost makes me reconsider Austin. Almost.

Methodist Church Taylor TX

This church was a beauty too and just turned 100 years old. Absolutely charming. Doors were locked- I checked- but I’m sure the inside is just a beautiful.

Taylor Texas Church

Look at the castle feature in the front with the amazing windows. Overall, we loved so much of the architecture in Taylor. After wandering about a little, we found out that this small town is actually growing and many businesses are moving in. After this trip, I know why and I’m tempted to snatch up some of the gorgeous historical buildings here.

Next visit here demands some famous Louie Mueller BBQ which may be some of the best in Texas according to Texas Monthly. Anyone tried out their perfected brisket or even just stopped by for some Taylor architecture envy?

 

 

10 Unexpected Things for a Great Paris Experience

top-10-unexpected-tips-paris

Ah, Paris. The “city of light,” the “city of love.” We loved it and for the most part, the city loved us back. But I honestly think it’s because we did tons of research and got a million and one opinions before we left. We didn’t do everything perfectly, but after the trip I realized a few things that made our trip so much more enjoyable and allowed us to bask in the “je ne sais quoi” that Paris is known for. So I’ve made a list of the top 10 things that I think would be the most useful to new travelers.

Paris Park in Fall

1. Travel in April/May or September

The time of year you go over might be the most important factor separating a good trip from a great one. We went at the end of September and it was wonderful. The lines for almost everything were nonexistent, everything was open (Parisians are famous for shutting up shop for vacation), and it’s easier to dress the part (more on that later). Oh, and did I mention that almost everything is cheaper in the off season? Yeah, it was great. So go right before or right after summer and as you can see from above, it’s still gorgeous weather!

Paris Balcony View

2. Check out AirBNB

This was the view from our balcony. You guys, this saved us so much money and we absolutely loved it. Like saved us thousands kind of money. We used Air BNB for our entire Euro vacation and not only did it save us tons, but also because we stayed in residential areas where other Parisians live. We went to legit local boulangéries, cafés, markets, etc, and were mere steps away from the Metro because we were able to pick our place based location and not just where hotels have availability. AirBNB made our lives so much easier and while I’d love to say that they were sponsoring this, alas, they’re not. We just loved our experience that much.

Basilica de Sacre Coeur

3. Make a List

This one seems like a no-brainer but somehow it didn’t even cross my mind until a friend mentioned it a day before we left. I’m so glad we sat down together and planned out the things that we wanted to do. We checked the weather ahead of time to help us decide which days would be museum days and which would be touring days and then filled our day based on the list. We knew that we couldn’t see and do everything in a week so we prioritized and we ended up being able to see and do everything that we really wanted to while keeping a cool Parisian pace.

Nate in Paris

4. Wear Appropriate Clothing

Please don’t be THOSE Americans. I didn’t really understand it until I got there but you have to take your dress up a notch there. People do not wear athletic or lounge wear. If you do, you will look like an annoying American and you will be treated differently. The French take pride in dressing nicely and I have to admit that by the time we left I really appreciated it. So pack some nice footwear, chinos or dark jeans, button downs or dresses and of course, a scarf.

Best Paris Meal

5. Check out Yelp and other Review Sites

Chances are you will not be able to perfectly plan every meal and that’s OK because things over there are more go with the flow. While in the midst of your wanderings, you will smell delicious food and want to run into the nearest restaurant thinking that “all French food must be good.” The sad truth is that while much of the food there is good, there are some places that are absolutely disgusting. The only truly awful meal we had in France was when we decided to eat in Montmartre without taking a minute to look it up. Worst. Meal. Ever. Take 5 minutes and use some of that prepaid data to find some of that amazing cuisine they’re known for.

Bridge along the Seine

6. Take an Afternoon Boat Tour

Everyone told us to take a boat tour and while we thought that it would be fun, we had no idea how much we’d love it. The boat tours range in price, accommodations, and times but they all depart from the same approximate location on the Seine near the Louvre. We learned about the amazing bridges in Paris, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and about a dozen other really awesome things along the river. It’s also a great way to see a few tourist destinations and further whittle down your “must see” list while you’re there. And their bridges are amazing and gilded.

Paris Paintings

7. Buy Art Along the Seine at the End of the Day

We knew we wanted to buy some original art from along the river but we just couldn’t decide what to buy. After casually looking while on our way to various destinations, we decided to check out some booths towards 5pm. We complimented the artists (always smart) and proceeded to try to narrow down our choices to just a few to purchase. After only 5ish minutes, the artist said if we would pick a few he would give them to us for almost half off since he was ready to go home and enjoy some wine. We happily scooped up our favorites, exchanged Euros and were on our way. We were happy because we came home with some amazing original work and he got to go home. As Michael Scott might say, win-win-win.

Lourve

8. Buy Louvre Tickets Before You get There

The Louvre (pronounced “loov”) is a must see for everyone but especially if you like art, architecture, or culture. Since you’re headed to Paris, I’ll assume you like all three. If you do, you’ll want to optimize your time in the humongously, amazingly large museum. The best way to do this is to avoid the ridiculously long line to buy tickets. Go online that morning before you head out and buy your tickets. It’ll save you half an hour (at minimum) and a whole lot of needless waiting.

Baguette Man

9. Buy a Baguette and Goodies at the Local Boulangerie

Every morning before we got on the metro, we’d head to the corner boulangerie (bakery) and buy a couple of quiches, a baguette and a few éclairs. We’d sit at a park and eat our quiches and éclairs like uncultured Americans (the French don’t do protein for breakfast) and then save our baguette for dinner/snack. This allowed us the ability to enjoy more of their amazing parks and gave me something to nibble on when we didn’t have time to pop into a café.

Le Tour D' Eiffel

10. Go to the Eiffel Tower in the Day Time and at Night

The Eiffel Tower is is far more magical than either Nate or I could have imagined. It’s right along the Seine in a beautiful park. During the day, the park filled with people laughing, singing and enjoying picnics. At night the tower lights up and even twinkles at certain times. Both times were magical and were highlights of our trip. Sing along with the accordion player when he plays “La Vie en Rose” every twenty minutes and soak in the ultimate Paris experience.

 

So after completing this I’ve realized that these aren’t completely unexpected ideas but maybe just unconventional advice. What are your favorite travel tips?