Rock the Porch Public Art Rocks Kyle


Plum Creek, TX

The Tertiary Man by Negley Elementary School’s Garden Club

After months of suspense on our part, and much creativity and hard work on the part of our participating artists, Plum Creek’s Rock the Porch public art initiative is now complete and out in the community!  As of early August, thirteen Kyle-made rocking chairs were placed in locations around Plum Creek and Kyle for people to look at, appreciate and enjoy. Each chair has its own unique personality, and we love the variety of people, concepts and artistic realizations the initiative brought along.

Plum Creek, TX

Pictures of each chair, along with information about each of the participating artists is available at the Plum Creek website: www.plumcreektx.com/rocktheporch. All of the chairs are out in the community, and they’re there for you to interact with and appreciate. So send us your pictures, and tell us what you think about the chairs when you come across them in Plum Creek or in Kyle. We’d love your feedback! We’re also currently sharing information about Rock the Porch on Plum Creek’s Facebook Page, so like us to learn more about the initiative!

Plum Creek TX

The S.S. Adventure by the City of Kyle’s Parks & Rec Adventure Summer Camp

 

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Water Spots in Central Texas + Ways to Keep Cool AND Have Fun This Summer


It’s getting hot, hot, hot. And even though the outside temperature is rising, your body temperature doesn’t have to, with these fun, water-based ways for you, your friends and the kids to keep cool in the out-of-doors.

Central Texas is one of the most water-replete areas of the state, and with all the rivers and lakes in and around the Hill Country, there are countless watering holes to explore. In Wimberley, Jacob’s Well is one of our favorites. One of the longest underwater caves in Texas and an artesian spring, Jacob’s Well has been a beloved swimming hole for generations, and is a source of water for recharging the Edwards Aquifer. The water stays at a constant 68 degrees throughout the year, so it’s a wonderful place to cool down in the summer, too. There isn’t too much room for wading or actual swimming, but there is a rock face on the side of the well that makes a great diving board. And the hole goes 30 feet deep, so there’s no chance of diving too far.

Plum Creek, TX

Photo courtesy of Visit Wimberley

Also in Wimberley is Blue Hole, a more traditional swimming hole with changing rooms and restrooms, stone walkways in and out of the pool, and ladders for the deeper areas. The hole is shaded by mature Cypress trees, and there is a nice, grassy area across from the water that is perfect for a family picnic or for drying off in the sun. There’s a $7 entry fee – but it’s well worth it. Both Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole are less than 20 minutes away from Kyle, making them a perfect afternoon excursion for cooling off with the family or friends.

Up north in Austin, there’s the Barton Creek Greenbelt, an urban oasis of trails for running or biking and great watering spots like Campbell’s Hole, Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls. They’re really popular places for Austinites to explore, and some of them are a bit of a hike, but they’re magical natural spaces, and are great for people watching. Here’s a PDF map of the Greenbelt with details about trails, water spots and access points, courtesy of the Austin Parks & Recreation Department.

Plum Creek, TX

Photo of Sculpture Falls courtesy of Flickr

For at-home water fun for the family, there’s a lot that can be done with sprinklers, ice and the outdoor hose. Games like water limbo, splash tag and musical sprinkler freeze are great games for a crew of kids, and there’s always a traditional water balloon or water gun fight. Here’s a pretty robust list of some great water-based outdoor games for summer parties or those afternoons where your house is the place to be.

You can also have your kids play outside with ice to keep cool in the summer. Freeze action figures in blocks of ice for an icy excavation game, or make an art craft out of ice by sprinkling salt in a block of ice to melt the cracks and tunnels. Then drip liquid watercolor paint into the tunnels and see the beautiful patterns that the salt created.

Plum Creek, TX

 

Then there’s always the traditional pool action. Plum Creek has two in the neighborhood – Fergus and McNaughton – each with their own distinct personalities, and the City of Kyle’s public pool is open throughout the summer. Plus they have fun programming going on this summer, too.

So whether you want to stay in the neighborhood, in the city, or do some exploring, there’s so much to do to keep cool this summer in Central Texas. For more watering holes in the area, check out some of our past posts here.

Earth Day in Central Texas


This year is Earth Day’s 43rd anniversary; and in that time, the eco-friendly observance has grown from a U.S.-only celebration (of only 20 million participants) to an international day of awareness, with an estimated 1 billion people from countries across the globe celebrating the day each year. This years’ Earth Day occurs next Monday, and, this weekend, there are a number of ways you and your family can celebrate nature and further benefit and support the environment in Central Texas.

Twenty minutes north of Kyle, up in Austin, the weekend is filled with earth-friendly events, including Austin Earth Day Saturday April 20th, and the East Austin Urban Farm Tour, Sunday April 21st. Both events take place in Austin’s east side, and serve to showcase some of the city’s most eco-friendly businesses, farms and restaurants, musicians and non-profit organizations. Austin Earth Day takes place on Saturday in the “Historic Browning Hangar” in Mueller (off of Airport Blvd) from 12 – 7 p.m. The event features live music, (including an interactive drum circle!) speakers and presentations on topics like “Austin’s Progress Toward Becoming a Sustainable City” and “A Crash Course on Composting” as well as exhibitions and booths from over 50 Central Texas-based organizations, businesses and nonprofits. Food and drink will be provided from a number of Austin-based establishments, and there will be a Kid’s Zone for the young ones, with face painting, a petting zoo, an interactive storytelling stage, and more. The event is free and open to the public, which makes it the perfect way to spend an eco-friendly Saturday with the fam.

Plum Creek, Texas

On Sunday, the East Austin Urban Farm Tour showcases four of Austin’s urban farms in the Govalle neighborhood off Airport Boulevard, near 183. The guided tour provides attendees with the opportunity to experience the farms and produce fields of Boggy Creek Farm, HausBar Farms, Rain Lily Farm and Springdale Farm while learning about each of the farms and the way in which they operate. Additionally, chefs from a number of local restaurants who source from these farms will provide a sampling of food items, with accompanying beverages as well. Tickets to the event are $45 and can be purchased in advance, here. The East Austin Urban Farm Tour has sold out the past two years, so buy yours now!

The following Saturday, April 27th, San Marcos hosts another Earth Day celebration at the San Marcos Springs. This event features live music performances from local bands “Green Mountain Grass,” “Albanie and her Fellas” and “Those Nights” as well as educational booths, green vendors and a kid-friendly talk from Doc Edwards from the Edwards Aquifer Authority and Karson, his Texas Blind Salamander puppet sidekick. The event benefits the Hays County Food Bank, and if you bring a non-perishable donation to the celebration, you can receive $2 off a glass bottom boat ride that day!  San Marcos also hosts a weekly farmers market every Saturday throughout the year where attendees can get local produce, sustainable products and other food items from a number of Central Texas-based farms and green organizations. For other Farmers Markets in the area, check out Edible Austin’s list of Central Texas farmers markets and resources.

Plum Creek, Texas

 

If you’d rather celebrate Earth Day on your own, there are many ways for you and yours to help and benefit the environment. Try to walk or ride your bike to school or work instead of getting in the gas guzzler, make a bird feeder from a milk carton or an empty liter soda bottle, plant a tree or flowers at home, or spend an afternoon outside walking around Lake Kyle or one of Plum Creek’s many parks. Or you can practice Earth Hour by turning off the lights, and the TV, and the computer, etc. in your home for one hour. Use the time to chat with the kids about sustainability, or do something fun by candlelight like reading a book.

In Plum Creek, the New Urbanist community located in Kyle, being green is easy, as the neighborhood privileges alternative modes of transportation, and there are countless ways to get out and enjoy the environment in the neighborhood! The streets are designed to slow traffic, and sidewalks offer residents the perfect space for taking a stroll and stretching those legs. Additionally, homes, amenities, schools and businesses are located within walking distance from each other, so you can virtually get anywhere in the neighborhood without the car. If that’s not green we don’t know what is!

Plum Creek, Texas

Art City Austin


Art is everywhere in Austin, in galleries, museums, and in parks and other public spaces throughout the city. This weekend it’s taking over the streets of downtown Austin too, through Austin Art Alliance’s annual Art City Austin – a two-day outdoor art festival and block party that will transform Cesar Chavez Street and the hip 2nd Street District into an artistic and cultural mecca this Saturday and Sunday, April 13th and 14th. So pile the family into the car for a short jaunt up north for a day full of art, culture, food and live music out on the streets of downtown Austin.

Plum Creek Texas

Photo courtesy of Austin 360

Art, of course, is front and center at the event, with two different kinds of art browsing experiences available for attendees this year. As in past years, Art City Austin features more than 100 temporary outdoor art galleries set against the streets, plazas and open spaces along Cesar Chavez Street and in the 2nd Street District. These galleries feature an array of art types and mediums, and you’re given the opportunity to meet the artists themselves at the event, too. New to the festival this year, though, is the People’s Gallery inside Austin City Hall, on Lavaca between Cesar Chavez and 2nd Street. This part of the festival is made possible by the Cultural Arts Division of the Austin Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Office and features only Austin-based artists and creatives, to showcase the regional talent and creativity available in Central Texas. And we all know there’s A LOT of that!

Additionally, festival-goers are given the multiple opportunities to watch art in action over the course of the weekend. Articulture Designs will create and install living art pieces throughout the festival site to beautify and set the stage for the festival, while local artists from the Hatch Workshop will weld a sculpture from unusable bike parts in the middle of the fest. Once complete, the sculpture will live at one of Austin’s many bike shops.

Articulture Design

Photo courtesy of the Articulture Designs Facebook page

While these galleries and exhibits are geared toward the teenage plus crowds, Art City Austin doesn’t leave out the kiddos. In fact, they’ve got a whole Kid’s Block that is chock full of fun, arts-related activities. Activities include making action paintings with marbles with Abrakadoodle, making masks with the Mexic-Arte Museum, crafts with the Mexican American Cultural Center, face painting, decorating bags, street chalk and more.

Two other activities at the fest unite the creative talents of many into group artworks.  These include Building a City with the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, where kids are given a single ceramic tile to decorate, which will then be assembled and featured at the Sculpture Garden during the May 5th Umlauf Family First Sunday; and the massive origami peace crane installation. This eventual art piece will incorporate colored twine and the origami peace cranes made at Art City to create a public art installation that will revitalize and transform an ordinary alleyway in downtown Austin. The installation will be on display on 9th street between Congress and Brazos through May 5th.

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Riders Against the Storm, courtesy of Do512

In addition to these art activities, Art City Austin will feature live music and food from a number of favorite Austin food trucks. Five different bands perform each day at stages that are a part of the outdoor block party. The musical selection is diverse and eclectic, ranging from Texas folk, to positive hip hop, to world music in order to reflect the diversity and quality of Austin and Texas’ music scenes. For more information about the musical performers, visit the Art City Austin music page, for band bios and to listen to some tunes.

Zilker Botanical Garden’s Annual Zilker Garden Festival


The first Saturday and Sunday of April, April 6th and 7th, the Zilker Botanical Garden hosts its 56th annual Zilker Garden Festival, which offers Central Texas and Austin residents the perfect introduction to spring. The family-friendly event takes place amidst the beautiful 30-acre Zilker Botanical Garden grounds, which are located near Lady Bird Lake on a diverse topography that is well-suited for showcasing different the types of native, hybrid and exotic plants that thrive in the climate of Central Texas. Themed gardens – such as the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden – are sprinkled throughout the facility, and are interconnected with streams, waterfalls and Koi-filled ponds, which create a peaceful, serene environment for enjoying nature, wildlife and the great outdoors.

Plum Creek, TX

The Zilker Garden Festival is the Zilker Botanical Garden’s most high-profile and anticipated annual event, and all proceeds support the Zilker Botanical Garden. The event is co-sponsored by the Austin Area Garden Council and the City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department.

Highlights from the Zilker Garden Festival include gardening talks and information sessions, shopping and food offerings, as well as an array of kid-friendly events and activities. Additionally, live music is available both days of the Garden Festival from local Central Texas artists from the likes of Harps of Many Colors, The Better Halves, and The Siekers, among others.

An array of garden talks and other information sessions from local flora and fauna experts are available at the Garden Festival as well. Topics range from “Care for Drought Stressed Trees” to “Rainwater Harvesting” to “Cacti & Succulents,” so festival-goers can receive a wide-range of area-specific information about Central Texas gardening from local, knowledgeable gardening experts.  These informational garden talks are included in the Festival as a part of the City of Austin’s Grow Green program – which promotes sustainable landscaping practices by addressing hot button topics such as water quality and conservation, recycling and sustainable pest control. Additionally, an array of vendors from across Central Texas will fill the Zilker Botanical Garden the two days of the Garden Festival to sell a variety of plants and garden-related items, including garden-themed arts and crafts, ceramic pottery, jewelry and herbal products, baskets, birdhouses and colorful garden benches, among others. These items, along with the informational gardening talks, create the perfect recipe for gardening success this spring!

Plum Creek, TX

Additionally, a Flower Show in the Zilker Botanical Garden Center with three special exhibits – featuring Bonsai, Cactus and Orchid plants – will showcase the best local horticulture in the area and will be judged by 6 accredited judges. This is the 55th annual Zilker Flower Show, hosted by the Violet Crown Garden Club and the Capital City Judges Council, which has been in existence since April 1958. Now, that’s a lot of flowers.

For the kiddos in your family, the Zilker Garden Festival features a number of kid-friendly events and activities in their Kid’s Corner as well. Here, the young ones can get their face painted, build their own birdhouses or bird feeders, make butterfly wings and masks, and will receive a free plant to take home and grow themselves. Additionally, the City of Austin will host an array of children’s activities in the Rose Garden, and near the “Faerie Homes” on the Escarpment Trail.  There will also be food products available at the Garden Festival, from the likes of Amy’s Ice Cream, Crepe Crazy, and Texas Tradition BBQ, among others, who will offer spring food items for your Garden Festival experience.

Plum Creek, TX

For more information about the Zilker Garden Festival, including location, activities and features, please visit the Zilker Botanical Garden website. And happy gardening!

Renaissance fun in Central Texas: The Sherwood Forest Faire (February 9 – March 31)


Plum Creek, Texas

Photo courtesy of Pixtus

This February and March, the 4th annual Sherwood Forest Faire returns to Central Texas for eight weeks of Renaissance fun in Bastrop’s beautiful Lost Pines. Every weekend from February 9th until the end of March, the medieval festival brings great food, medieval entertainment and over 150 merchant shops to Central Texas for families to appreciate and enjoy. The eight-week extravaganza features something for everyone, so children and adults alike can experience and enjoy a simulation of what life was like in the olden days, without a time machine or a trip across the globe.

A wide array of Renaissance-related, European food items are available at the faire, and food booths range from The Golden Conquistador (Mexican food), to The Greek Agora (Mediterranean food),  to Merlin’s Favorites and much more. A wide selection of vegetarian food items are available at the Sherwood Forest Faire as well. Special food-related events are available at the Sherwood Forest Faire this year as well, including a Wine Tasting and a multi-course, authentic Renaissance feast, which are both available with an RSVP and an additional charge.

Plum Creek, Texas

The Wine Tasting is officially called “Tasting Wine with Madame Ghislaine,” who is a French midwife and wine connoisseur who gives an exclusive look at some carefully selected wines from around the world. The tasting accommodates up to 24 guests, and will last an hour and fifteen minutes. Tickets to the wine tasting are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and the tasting is only at the Faire for a limited time, so if you’re interested, check it out now. Robin’s Feast is the other food-related event at the Sherwood Faire this year, and is a five-course, all you can drink extravaganza complete with music and dancing. Each feast-goer receives a soup course, several meat and veggie courses in succession and dessert. Tickets for Robin’s Feast are a little more expensive, but the “all you can drink” caveat makes it worth it. Again, tickets and times are limited, so do some research if Robin’s Feast tickles your fancy.

In addition to food, Sherwood Forest Faire offers more than 150 places to shop and enjoy yourself. Shop offerings range from medieval novelties, to clothes items, to jewelry, to leatherwork, musical instruments, weaponry, and more. Local artists and craftspeople are predominately featured at the festival, so remember that you’re supporting the local economy. Plus, who doesn’t want a bow and arrow, or some authentic Reniassance-type candles?

Renaissance_Fairs_Sherwood_Forest_Faire_Armorer

Photo courtesy of The Austinot

The main draw of the Sherwood Forest Faire, though, is the entertainment. Each week, the Faire releases a new performance lineup, which includes musical acts, magic shows, chess matches, dog shows, dance performances, jousts and more. There are over 20 performance spaces and stages, so you can plan your day to a tee and catch all the medieval entertainment you can muster. Most events are family-friendly, too, so you don’t have to worry about little eyes being offended or scared. The Sherwood Forest Faire even has its own cast of characters and performers listed online so you can see what kinds of peoples and costumes are in store for your weekend of Renaissance fun.

SherwoodForestFaire.com has much more information available about the festival, so if you’re interested in checking it out this month or next, meander on over to their webpage and see other events and entertainment that are available at the Faire. And remember, this is an authentic Renaissance experience, so costumes are encouraged. And we all know you’ve been waiting for an excuse to bust out that elf or troll costume since college. Perfect right?

Sherwood_Forest_Faire_Parade

Photo courtesy of Faire Freak

Stumped on the Holiday Gift Front? Try a DIY Gift.


Holiday shopping can be brutal. Trying to figure out the perfect, creative gift for the hubby, the wife, the in-laws or the kiddos is hard enough, but staying within budget? That’s a whole other monster. However, if you’re resourceful (and a wee bit crafty), this can be easily accomplished with some DIY holiday gift solutions.

The number of interests, games and fun times that kids have makes DIY gifts for the little ones easy. And, you can tailor and personalize the gift to your kids’ particular interests in a snap. Have a superhero fan in your family, or a little one who thinks he can fly? Make them their own superhero costume based on their favorite color, their name and the preferred superhero power. This link above offers great ideas and plans for everything superhero: from T-shirt-made capes, to winged shoes, to even a lighted Green Lantern ring.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Have a kiddo who has an affinity for shooting spitballs or Nerf Guns? Give them something a little less messy to shoot – like marshmallows. These marshmallow shooters require very few materials to make – pretty much just PVC pipe – and they provide your whole family with the perfect post-present Christmas Day activity.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Homemade gifts that are sentimental or meaningful add that personal touch we so often strive for when giving gifts. Things like decorated “Reasons I Love You” books, scrapbooks or photo albums, mixed cds, recipe books or family cookbooks are simple homemade gifts that require little cash, and pack a meaningful punch that says, “I put some time into this.”

One of our favorite homemade gifts for older parents or grandparents are Memory Jars. These jars can go one of two ways.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

1)      Fill a jar with slips of paper, each with a question or prompt written on it. These questions can be about anything you’re interested in learning about this person – from “Tell me about you and Mom’s first date” to “What was elementary school like for you” to “What did you want to be when you grew up.” This is a great way to learn the details of your elders’ lives, and, if you make writing down the answer a daily requirement, it gives them something to look forward to each day, and an opportunity to run down memory lane.

OR

2)      Survey people that care about or have been involved in the life of that particular person. Ask them to contribute a favorite memory, compliment or tidbit about that person, and compile them in a decorated jar. Whenever that person is having a rough day, or just wants a little ego boost, they can dip into the jar and find a smile.

Plum Creek, Kyle TX

Another cheap and simple homemade gift, for Dad, Mom or any coffee fan in your life is a Sharpie-decorated coffee mug. The required supplies are simple – Sharpies, a mug or dish you want to alter, and an oven. Simply decorate the mug to your heart’s content, and put it in the oven set at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. The decorations stand up to handwashing and scrubbing with a sponge, but are a little less efficient in the dishwasher – but, hey, it’s a really cheap and personal gift, and if you want something that can withstand the machine, check out Pebeo markers for a little bit more.

And psssst, Plum Creekers….If you want additional DIY holiday gift ideas, Pinterest is a great place for inspiration!