North

  1. Vineyard at Florence (111 Via Francesco, Florence, TX) - (temporarily closed) located a little less than an hour north of Austin, we love visiting the Vineyard at Florence as a spot to get away from the chaos of city noise. The back patio has tons of space for kiddos to roam around and there are several tables for families to sit with one another. Lodging is also available onsite and the accommodations are gorgeous!

  2. 3 Texans Winery (7536 FM Road 2409 Temple, TX) - we recently discovered this winery and will definitely be back! The staff was so kind to our kiddos even offering them sodas from the fridge. The back patio overlooks the vineyard and is a great spot for a family picnic. Our littles loved playing with the vineyard dog, Bailey.



3. Thirsty Mule (101 County Road 257 Liberty Hill, TX) - this small winery offers tastings for $10 and our kiddos find the donkeys next door quite entertaining. glass for $15. 



South

  1. Duchman Family Winery (13308 FM 150 W Driftwood, TX)- enjoy 100% Texas grown grapes and wide open spaces. The restaurant adjacent, Trattoria Lisina, has a playscape and serves wood-fired pizzas.

  2. Bell Springs Winery (3700 Bell Springs Rd. Dripping Springs, TX) - The last time we visited Bell Springs, it was 70 degrees outside and we sat under large trees sharing a bottle while our daughter danced around to live music. It was bliss! The winery also has lawn games and a full food menu on the weekends.


Hill Country

  1. William Chris Vineyards(10352 W US Highway 290 Hye, TX) - the last time we visited this winery, our kiddos were both greeted with bubble wands, William Chris Vineyard also has tons of space for kiddos to roam and occasionally provides kid friendly activities. Picnic lunches can be purchased ahead of time online and they are perfect for the entire family to enjoy.


2. Pedernales (2916 Upper Albert Rd. Stonewall TX) - this winery has one of our favorite views in Hill Country. The patio is set high and overlooks a huge space where kids can run around, there are several tables out in the grassy open area and on weekends you'll find live music.

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  • Admin

Every year for the Fourth of July, we fly to Buffalo, NY and then make the drive to a family cottage on Lake Erie. This cottage has been in the family for decades and is the meeting spot for family from Florida, Toronto and Pennsylvania. Our cottage time is all about family bonding, lake sunset views and the simple life. With Canadian borders still being closed and the risk of COVID19 on the rise, we all made the decision to cancel this year's gathering.

My backup plan was to make the 13 hour drive to Albuquerque, NM and visit my sister and her family. Two weeks prior to July 4th, I had a follow up orthopedic visit and realized while my stress fracture was on the mend, there was no physical way I would have been able to make the drive (since the fracture is on my right fibula) back to Texas on my own.

My husband knew that with two canceled trips (amongst many other failed summer plans), my heart was heavy. We made a quick decision to book an AirBNB in Belton, TX. My soul was craving time away from our house and a little family adventure. We packed just the basics and headed out on July 3rd. Since Scott was off work that day, we wanted to make the most of our time. We drove through P Terry's for burgers, fries and the shake of the month (Birthday Cake) and made our way to Cibolo Creek. Cibolo Creek runs through the heart of Salado, TX and is a naturally (limestone) filtered creek. It's incredibly fun for kiddos to splash and play and easy for parents to setup a picnic. We grubbed on our burgers then hit the water. After a few hours of playing around, we drove the rest of the way to Belton (15 minute drive) for check in.



Our Airbnb host provided a crib for Max, a highchair and lots and lots of toys for both Max and Olivia to play with. The guesthouse shares a yard with the host's house and they graciously let us use the playscapes, patio and wading pool with zero interfearance. We had absolutely everything we needed on site to enjoy our weekend. We ordered pizza, swam in the pool and played in the backyard. Once the kiddos went to bed, Scott and I curled up on the couch together and watched a Netflix movie. It truly felt amazing to have a change in environment.

Saturday morning we sipped coffee while we took a morning stroll around the gorgeous neighborhood then dug into a delicious continental style breakfast.We loaded the car with a cooler, chairs, beach towels and lots of sunscreen and drove to Temple Lake park. We were able to safely distance ourselves from other families and groups and still enjoy a full day of lake swimming. The kids loved wading in the water and playing in the sand. Of course, no trip to Belton is complete without Miller's Smokehouse, so on our way back to the guesthouse we picked up a few meats, sides and desserts to enjoy later.



During the 4th of July evening, we grilled hamburgers and I even made a potato salad using the air fryer supplied by the owners (I am quite proud of this!), swam, had a glowstick party and listened to nearby fireworks.



This year was far from traditional, but our family laughed together, played together and created an entire file of new memories. Sure we missed seeing cousins, partaking in parades and watching fireworks, but with a little ingunuity, our holiday weekend felt just as spectacular.



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  • Ashley M.

Updated: Dec 28, 2020


Ingredients:

3 Lbs. Chicken wings*

Marinade:

1/2 cup soy sauce

3 Tbsp white vinegar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp black pepper

optional: dash of cayenne pepper

Method:

1. Prepare the wings by disconnecting the flapper and the drum (see notes) if this has not already been done so by butcher.

2. Prepare marinade: mix all sauce ingredients together in a bowl and add to a large sealable Ziploc storage bag. Soak the wings in the marinade overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet by covering the bottom with foil. Remove the chicken wings from the bag of marinade and place on the prepared sheet making sure not to overlap or crowd. Reserve sauce to use as baste while grilling. Bake for 1 hour.

4. Preheat grill to medium low heat. Remove the wings from the oven.*

5. Place the wings on the grill and brush one side with the marinade. Grill for 4-6 minutes. Flip the wings to the other side, brush with marinade and grill for another 4-6 minutes. Remove wings from the grill. Enjoy!

Traeger Method:

  1. Follow steps 1 and 2.

  2. Set Traeger to 225 and let it preheat for 15 minutes.

  3. Smoke the wings on the second rack of the smoker for 25 minutes. Flip and smoke for another 25 minutes.

  4. Flip the wings one final time and increase the heat to 425f. Smoke the wings at 425 for 20-30 minuets.

*Notes:

-Often wings come whole with the drum and the flapper connected. I like to break the bone then cut the skin to seperate the two. This helps to render the skin down easier which makes your wing crispier.

-I like to heat the marinade in a small cast iron saucepan on the grill for a little while before I start grilling the wings.

#recipe #chickenwings #appetizer #gameday #MemorialDay

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