Stock Tank Pool

The weather is heating up through the Southwest and Texas and most people are hitting the pool. Yesterday, I walked by a house with a stock tank pool in their side yard. I like to call them "cowboy pools". The stock tank pool is a great alternative to a full sized in-ground pool. If you've got an unused corner of the yard, this might be a great option for you!

There are lots of ways to keep these sweet little tanks heated and clean, but without the huge cost and upkeep of an in-ground pool. Take a look at these photos below. Some of them have been embellished with siding, decks and landscaping, but they all begin with a circular stock tank.

Staying at the Belmont

I've always wanted to take a solo vacation in my own city. Last week, my mother-in-law swept into town to watch my boys and hold down the fort while I drove 20 minutes south to the Belmont Hotel. I've written about the Belmont before, but this time I was able to stay as a guest for four days!

The Belmont is a historic motor inn that was built in 1946. It fell into disrepair over the decades and was lovingly reinvigorated and restored in 2005. I love the vintage vibe, the groovy pool, the beautiful community spaces and the free internet. The shot below is a view of my junior suite.

The suite I stayed in was an upstairs / downstairs number with views of the Dallas skyline. The first floor had a mini kitchen, daybed, TV and bathroom.  Upstairs housed a queen bed, desk, TV and second daybed. The furniture was all very West Elm-ish and very comfortable.

My purpose in leaving home for such a long spread was to work on my manuscript - a book I've been writing in sputtering bursts for the past year.  It's difficult to maintain a long thought arch when surrounded by a non-ambulatory two-year-old, a constantly questioning four-year-old, a barrage of appointments, household chores and other random deadlines. The Belmont was the perfect place to escape the charming avalanche of my daily life and enjoy a self-imposed writers retreat.

As you can imagine, I spent my nights at the Bar Belmont, which has another spectacular view of the city. My drink of choice?  Grey Goose Martini up and dirty with extra olives.  Their bar tender would shake the shit out of my drink, creating a chipped ice surface with olive froth.  It was divine.

Every morning, I'd visit the bar for coffee and sunrise on the patio at BarBelmont.

All of the current artwork in the lobby and bar is by local artist, Tamara White.

I spent most of my time in my room working on the book or painting while Dallas buzzed away in the distance. The space was so clean, fresh, open and ready for creative work. The pool was always there, heated and ready for a dip if I was suffering from writers block, but that never happened. I just clicked away on the keyboard for four days and was a little stunned when it was all over that the time had passed so quickly.

This was the view from my second story window.

When I got hungry, I'd visit Smoke, the amazing restaurant connected to the Belmont Hotel.  This place is totally off the hook.  Smoke takes the Texas BBQ joint to a whole new level. I had the most beautifully smoked fish, mashed turnips and grilled collards the first night I dined.  And at brunch on my last day, I devoured their brisket and cornbread hash served with a poached egg, smoked Hollandaise and roasted jalapenos. Their food made me love Dallas a bit more.  In fact, the whole experience made me appreciate my surroundings more than I have.

The light fixture over the bar at Smoke is such fun - an upcycled and reconfigured wood pallet with a granny chic chandelier in the center.  So cool.

I'd love to make this an annual event - something I could save up for all year and use to reinvigorate my work and rest my head. The bonus of not having small ones around was that I was able to get some much needed sleep.

I was happy to get home on Sunday, hug my happy babies and worship at my mother-in-law's feet for the amazing gift she had bestowed upon me.  Do you know what she said when she left town?  "Just tell me when we're doing it again!"  Can you imagine?  I'm the luckiest woman in the world.

(Thank you Betsy.)

Chill Out

source unknown to me

"For fast acting relief, try slowing down."   
- Lily Tomlin


"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop."
- Ovid



"There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know any of them." 
- Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar



"Some of the secret joys of living are not found by rushing from point A to point B, 
but by inventing some imaginary letters along the way." 
- Douglas Pagels


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Marfa - El Cosmico

What: El Cosmico
Where: Marfa, Texas
Driving time from my house: 8 hrs 45 min

My "back yard vacation" series continues today in Marfa, Texas - a town in the high desert of far West Texas located between the Davis Mountains and Big Bend National Park.  At almost 9 hours away from Dallas by car, this is the furthest destination in our series. While in Marfa, we'll stay at El Cosmico, which lies on an 18 acre plot of land in Marfa, Texas.  Opened in the fall of 2009, El Cosmico is described as "part art vintage trailer, yurt and teepee hotel and campground, part creative lab, greenhouse and amphitheatre - a community space that fosters and agitates artistic and intellectual exchange."  Makes one curious, doesn't it? 

El Cosmico offers accommodations in several renovated vintage trailers, reinvented yurt structures called eco shacks, a traditional 22 ft. diameter Sioux teepee, and a number of tent campsites. Visitors are encouraged to explore and use the communal spaces on the land including an elm grove full of hammocks, a community lounge and mercantile, and an outdoor kitchen and dining space. 

Marfa has some serious film cred and is the location where Giant (1956), No Country for Old Men (2007), There Will be Blood (2007) and other films have been shot.  However, Marfa may be most famous for the mysterious Marfa Lights, which are visible on clear nights between Marfa and the Paisano Pass when one is facing southwest. At times they appear colored as they twinkle in the distance. They move about, split apart, melt together, disappear, and reappear. Presidio County residents have watched the lights for over a hundred years. The first historical record of them is from 1883.

We'll get settled into our trailer for the night, drink some beer and enjoy the wafting sounds of a guitar from a traveling troubadour camping nearby.   In the morning, after watching the sunrise and enjoying a cup of strong coffee, we'll probably venture into town for a meal at the quirky cute Austin Street Cafe. Then we'll browse through the Marfa Book Co, which also boasts an impressive art gallery.  Actually, for a town of 2,100 residents, Marfa has a ton of great art.  My husband and I will probably spend the entire day gallery hopping.  Check out THIS impressive list of galleries.

Austin Street Cafe

On our way back to El Cosmico, we'll stop at The Get Go grocery store for some provisions.  Or maybe we'll be lazy and get something to go at the Food Shark.  I know it looks a little sketchy, but this little truck is reported to peddle some amazing Mediterranean cuisine.

...and then back to El Cosmico for a drum circle (because I'm sure my husband will bring his Jembe) or a soak in a Dutchtub or a nap in a grove of hammocks or all three. 

Tomorrow, we'll be trading the mysterious Marfa lights for the lights of Dallas.  Join me for a two-night stay in my own city.  No driving, great food and awesome accommodations - all in my"back yard".  Stay tuned!