Farm to Table Brunch

Mike and I spent a beautiful, sunny – Sunday morning experiencing a new restaurant  in Historic Downtown Bryan, Texas.  Housed inside the rustic and recently restored Ice House on Main, Ronin Restaurant brings new life to the 1912 building.

For many years, Chef Brian Light and his wife Amanda have connected our community through local food production and provided a venue where guests can enjoy the traditions of a simpler life at Ronin Farms. The outdoor event venue under the Texas sky will make you fall in love with the Farm to Table concept.  Ronin has now created a second space where our community can experience this same concept in their new location in Historic Downtown Bryan.

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Guests at the Ronin Restaurant can choose from a variety of seating, including outdoor tables with a view of  Historic Downtown Bryan, a indoor community style table or simply a seat at the bar.

The menu selection was carefully crafted, providing us with the feeling that we were out on the farm and even included recommendations of drink pairings for each menu item.

Mike selected the Texas Wagyu Chicken Fried Steak and Farm Egg with Cream Gravy and Roasted Sweet Potato.  Although I helped Mike finish most of his delicious Wagyu Chicken Fried Steak, I went with a sweeter selection for my entree- the Cinnamon Pecan French Toast with Spiced Apple Compote and Spiced Caramel – and it was as delightful as the name.

Although the food and venue were amazing, please note that the pricing for us would be for special occasions only and not a weekly stop.  Based on your budget, I would recommend reviewing the menu pricing before dining.  I definitely see this venue as the perfect spot to host a bridal brunch, baby shower or even a birthday celebration with your closest girlfriends.

The Ronin Restaurant also has seasonal hours, so be sure to check their website for the most up to date hours.  If you are dining this Winter, the hours for Ronin Restaurant are:

Dinner 5pm-10pm
Thursday, Friday & Saturday

Brunch 11am-2pm
Every Sunday

Happy Brunching xx Jennifer

Home Sweet Home

I’m officially moved in, semi-unpacked and getting back into my “normal routine.”  I will admit I have driven the wrong way home from work a few times just out of habit but quickly realized…oops I don’t live here anymore.

One of the feelings I hadn’t expected was the huge since of pride that comes along with owning my first home.  A year ago, I didn’t even think this was a possibility but now that I’m in it, living it, I am so happy I took the leap.  I may have a few extra grey hairs but that’s nothing my hairdresser can’t fix.

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I also feel like more of an adult, that seems silly to say out loud, but right or wrong, I do.  Spending my Saturdays wandering the aisles of Home Depot or sketching out my elaborate backyard Spring DIY projects, it’s been a fun and exciting experience.

In meeting my neighbors, so far I have received rose bush pruning tips by the retiree on the next block over, and I’ve even met several of the neighborhood dogs – Jack has approved and is looking forward to his next playdate with his new furry friends.

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Here are a few lessons I learned after move in…

Ask friends for help. One of the best moving decisions I made was to invite friends over to help unpack.  Now they may not see it that way, but it was a huge time saver when it came to my kitchen.  We had the entire kitchen unpacked out of boxes and in cabinets in an hour.  I always think organizing a new kitchen is hard because you’re not sure how to set it up.  But having five women help organize the kitchen was a life saver.  It was also just a lot of fun having friends come over and hangout.  We played music in the background, ate sandwiches and unpacked – I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

I should have taken notes. This is a little bit like taking your first college exam and flunking it.  When you are in a high stress situation or receiving a lot of information for the first time it’s easy to forget half of everything.  From the final walk through on my house all the way to closing I received a lot of information… most of it started out something like this “Don’t lose this paper, it’s very important.” Or “You will want to fill this out and mail this to ______(fill in the blank).”  So don’t be afraid to take a pen and paper and ask clarifying questions every step of the way.  Here’s your second chance to be the straight A student you never were in college.

Make lists. After moving in I had created a mental list of all of the items in the house of what needed to be fixed or still needed to be done.  This list swam around in my head for days and even kept me up at night.  It’s just good to write it down or create a digital list on your phone or computer.

It doesn’t have to ALL be done today. I really like to knock things out… give me a list and it will be done before noon. I’ve always been that way, I like to just get stuff done even if it kills me or I have to spend the next week catching up on sleep.  After I finally stepped back and made my list of “to dos”, and prioritized them, it really helped me feel more relaxed and I could enjoy my house more.

Change of address. Someone needs to create a button or magic wand for this. I recommend making a list of all of the places you need to change your address starting with the most obvious mail forwarding with USPS.  Others would be your employer, bank accounts and credit cards, updating your driver’s license and most important your Amazon Prime account.

 

Hopefully a few of the lessons I learned will help you with your home purchase.  With home ownership comes new responsibilities, new challenges and new adventures.  I’m excited to see where it takes me.  I’m excited to be home.  – xx Jennifer

A new take on hanging out with your Girlfriends

Finding new reasons to hangout with my best gal pals has never been an issue for me.  I’m constantly looking for new ideas on ways to strengthen my existing relationships and start new ones.  Last weekend my friend Cait and I went on a little adventure and came up with some fun activities to go do this Fall, besides the traditional dinner or happy hour.  (But just to be clear, this is in addition to wine drinking and our big Italian family style dinners – we wont be giving that up anytime in the near future.)

All of these ideas will spark your inner creative at heart and hopefully you’ll learn a few new skills with your besties by your side.  Among the ideas were Succulent Planting Party, Watercolor Party, and a Cake Decorating Party…. I’m starting to see a theme here – so let’s get this party started!  Here are the ideas:

1. Succulent Planting Party – this is really just a gateway to shopping in Downtown Bryan, but I’m good with that, and kudos to Market 1023 for their clever traffic drivers.  Stop by Market 1023 to pick your succulent, find a planter and then check out.  They will help you plant your succulent and give you directions on how to care for it.  I think you could easily make this into a stop during your First Friday adventures, tacking on a drink at the LaSalle Hotel or a classic movie at The Queen Theatre and your in “girls night out” business.

 

2.  Watercolor Party – With the trend of brush script and beautiful watercolor paintings continue to flood everyone’s Instagram feeds it only seems natural to jump on the band wagon and try your hand at the craft.  A wonderful friends of mine and local artist Beth Symons, owner of Bethany Joy Design, is now booking private parties.  You can contact her directly through her Facebook page to setup your next Watercolor Party!

 

3.  Cake Decorating Party – I’m generally more interested in the consumption of cake and cookies, but I’m willing to put my sweet tooth aside and learn a few new baking skills. The Chocolate Gallery in Downtown Bryan will offer a fresh take on their adult classes this fall and they’re also upgrading their classroom!  For more details about scheduling a class reach out to Christina Patterson via email: cpatterson@bcscocoapantry.com

Also as a side note, The Chocolate Gallery has licensed Texas A&M chocolates and gelato hand dipped into a waffle cone that will take you back to your childhood.  If you are an aspiring chef like myself, you will enjoy browsing through their very nice selection of kitchen gadgets from Le Creuset bakeware to high-end appliances that you would find at a retailer similar to Williams-Sonoma.

Now, go call all all of your gal pals and plan a creative party! Cheers!  xx-Jennifer

Wayside Food Park

The Brazos Valley is quickly becoming a foodie’s paradise.  With new restaurants opening up, what seems like daily, there just aren’t enough days in the week to enjoy everything Bryan/College Station now has to offer… but I’m going to give it my best try!

It’s exciting to see new concepts come to the area and one that I’m really excited about is the new Wayside Food Park, located at 203 First Street in College Station’s historic Northgate district.  Northgate is most notably known for it’s vibrant nightlife scene inclusive of bars, pubs, food, live music and now home to Aggieland’s first food park.  Purchased in 1912, Texas A&M originally dedicated this land for the future development of shopping and businesses.  Although  Northgate was not established until 1972, the area is now a thriving spot for college students, visitors and families.

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What do you need to know before you go to the food park?

Adjacent to the Northside of campus, parking can be limited at Northgate.  Wayside has done an excellent job of educating customers on where they can and can not park.  When we visited, we found a great spot directly across the street in the Coyote Parking lot, but remember to bring cash for this lot, credit cards are not an option.  Further down the street there is paid parking with numbered spaces and of course the Northgate parking garage, but be prepared to walk a few blocks.

The food park is dog friendly.  So plan to bring your furry friend along, but make sure they are on a leash.  With this Texas heat you will also want to bring a dog bowl and Wayside will be happy to fill it up with water for your four legged friend.

Plan to stay awhile.  From giant Jenga and Connect 4, yard games and live music, Wayside Food Park is a great place to grab a beer, gourmet food and hangout with friends.   The covered pavilion and large seating area makes it inviting for guests to sit back, relax and stay awhile.

Probably the biggest problem we had once we toured the Food Park was actually deciding what to eat… every food truck smelled amazing and the menus left us drooling.  After hearing wonderful things about a new food truck in town that is dedicated to “Sweet and Savory Southern Snacks”, I was sold.  Our first stop was The Deaux Company food truck.  Husband and wife duo – Texas A&M grad, Garrett, and LSU grad, Sarah – cook up late night snacks all day long.

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Featuring three menu options, I just couldn’t say no to Fried Chicken and Waffles.  If they would have sold me a bucket of the chicken, I would have done it, it was that good.  Finding myself limited on belly space, I will be back to try out their other two menu items that I know will be equally satisfying to my curated southern pallet.

  1. Cajun Boudin hand-rolled in panko bread crumbs, deep fried and served with remoulade sauce. (Can we pause and just take that in for a moment? Yum.)
  2. Beignet Fritters, made-to-order and lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Y’all they are served in a waffle cone coated with your choice of chocolate sprinkles or white-chocolate cinnamon and sugar (Psst… tell them you want the Nutella topping… you’re welcome.)

Luckily I had brought along my friend Cait, who puts up with my blogger craziness, and generously agreed to share her grilled cheese from the BaconGate food truck.  I will say this went along nicely with my chicken and waffles, just in case you were wondering, it was a nice pairing.

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We tried the gourmet bacon grilled cheese and my little Texas soul was so happy when our lunch arrived in true Texas fashion – garnished with a Texas flag.  Beyond the Texas flag, the grilled cheese was exactly what I expected, delicious.  I will say that I would like to try “The Elvis” next time… Hawaiian bread, creamy peanut butter, sliced bananas and finished with candy bacon.

We were only able to try out food from two trucks during our visit, but we can’t wait to go back and try out the many other equally amazing food trucks that Wayside Food Park has to offer.  You can follow Wayside Food Park on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Both The Deaux Company and BaconGate food trucks have Facebook and Instagram accounts, so give them follow and more importantly stop by and try out their food!

xx -Jennifer

Wayside Food Park Hours of Operation

Monday – Thursday 11 am – 8 pm

Friday 11 am – 9 pm

Saturday 11 am – 8 pm

Sunday 11 am – 3 pm

Southern Brunch

The Brazos Valley is quickly becoming the Southern Brunch capital of the World, y’all… I am seriously convinced of this!  With the continued growth of our community we have attracted a few new eateries that are making my gym membership quiver.

Sundays are for Jesus and brunch with my girls, (pause I’m making a T-shirt now with this quote).  This summer we have had a few new spots pop up that you need to add to your weekend brunch plans asap.  First on the list is Stella Southern Cafe.

A fun fact about the name of the restaurant, it was actually named after the owner Michael Lair’s 1995 Dodge Dakota club cab with a 5.2 liter V8 engine, Stella.  A part of every road trip adventure he took, Stella now lives on through the name of his southern cafe.

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Photo Credit: Clare Rowe

Walking into the restaurant you are immediately greeted by hosts who provide you with a menu while waiting in line to order your food.  Don’t worry it’s not a long wait, but you will be tempted by all of the great gift items and homemade jams as you make your way to the register.

I had a tough decision to make because everything on the menu just looked amazing.  I decided to go with a more traditional breakfast which included eggs, bacon, grits (with cheese of course) and I would be crazy not to try their homemade biscuits with mimosa jam.  I didn’t know that my favorite breakfast drink could be made into a jam, but they found a way!

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The overall dining experience was excellent.  The staff was warm and friends, much like the south.  My friends and I will definitely put the Stella Southern Cafe into our brunch rotation! xx-Jennifer

I said YES… to the Lender

Buying my dream home seemed out of reach at the beginning of the year, but I quickly realized that it was more about the fear of the “unknown” than about the actual process.  With information at my fingertips and unlimited resources to buying a home, I felt a little overwhelmed trying to accomplish my goal of becoming a first time home buyer.

The process seemed both exciting and also terrifying at the same time, but I knew I needed to end my marathon of rental days behind me and start the investment in my community.

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I will say that I had a really great experience working with my lender partly because I purchased a home from Stylecraft Builders.  Stylecraft really makes the home buying experience not only special but simple.  Through their in-house lender I was able to easily access the financial resources necessary to purchase my first home.

Knowing that this can be intimidating and slightly scary I’m sharing with you a few questions and documents that I prepared before speaking to my lender.

5 Key Questions:

  1. What loans do I qualify for?  As a first time home buyer I decided to maximize this experience by applying for a FHA loan.  I will never be a first time home buyer again and the FHA loan fit my needs the best.  Ask your lender to put together a few scenarios in a worksheet to visually see the difference between the loans.
  2. What is the current interest rate?
  3. When can I lock in the interest rate?  Working with Stylecraft Builders, they had a very specific point in their construction that they lock in the interest rate.  They will lock in the rate when the counter tops are installed.  This is a very unique situation as I am dealing with new construction, so make sure you really understand when the rate is secured.
  4. Will I pay Private Mortgage Interest (PMI)?  Typically if you put down less than 20% of the loan value you will have to pay PMI.
  5. Can you provide a worksheet on the closing costs and fees – basically how much money will I need to bring to the table during closing?

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5 Documents to bring to your lender:

  1. Drivers License
  2. Social Security Card
  3. W-2’s (2 years)
  4. Bank Statements (2 months)
  5. Pay Check Stubs (2 months)

If you missed out on the last two blog posts in this home buying series, catch up with the links below and read more details about my home buying experience, including the lessons I’ve learned along the way to inspire you to invest in your community! xx-Jennifer

I said YES… to the House

I said YES… the the Real Estate Agent

 

I said YES…to the Real Estate Agent

I set some pretty big goals at the beginning of the year and one of them was to explore the option of owning my first home, with the long term goal of becoming a real estate investor.  I’ve rented in the Brazos valley for over 17 years (wow) and as I continued to deal with paying high rental prices, a leaky rental property roof and all of the college students…. I finally threw my hands up and said enough is enough.  It’s time to move on, move forward and take the leap.

Ok so the decision to buy wasn’t exactly that easy.  Last week I shared with y’all a few home buying tips and lessons I’ve learned throughout this process. But one of the big takeaways for me was interviewing a real estate agent.  I will admit I failed at this part, that’s why I am sharing with you today, the top 5 questions you should ask your potential Real Estate Agent.

Bonus: I’m also sharing a fun exercise you can do that will help you answer questions that a real estate agent will ask you during your first meeting.

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Choosing your Real Estate Agent:  My recommendation is to choose three agents to interview… ask a friends for a referral or use the Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider (ELP) guide.  Once you have narrowed your search down, set up face-to-face meetings.  It is so important to meet your potential agent in person.  I know this is hard to do in today’s world of technology, but trust me you will know within 10 to 15 minutes of meeting the agent if you will be good business partners.

Here are five questions to ask your agent to get the conversation started:

  1. How long have you lived in (insert community name here) community?
  2. How long have you been in the real estate business?
  3. What does the home buying process look like with you?
  4. How will you match my must haves/wish list items with a potential home?
  5. How do you communicate? (via email, phone, in person)

Preparing to interview your potential real estate agent is important, but you should also be prepared to answer a few questions of your own…

What is your timeline?

Have a good idea of when you would like to be moved into your house and when you plan to close.  If you are currently renting and are nearing the end of your lease agreement before you can get into a new home, I would encourage you to speak to your landlord about the option of going month-to-month or extending your lease if you think that would even be an option.  I setup a time to meet with my property manager and explained my circumstances and she was completely accommodating.  The key thing is to just communicate.

What is your budget?

There are new costs of living when you own a home that you need to be aware of outside of your monthly payment, such as PMI (private mortgage insurance) if you are not putting 20% down, home owners insurance and property taxes.  If you have a lender in mind I would recommend speaking with him/her before starting to look at homes.  You don’t want to fall in love with a home that you will never be able to pay for in the end.  Your lender will also provide you with a Pre-Qualification Letter that you will need before placing an offer on a home.  This is a document that shows the seller that you are serious and have the ability to purchasing their home.

Tip:  When you are pre-qualified, the amount will most likely be over your budget, so make sure you have done the math and it is a monthly mortgage payment that you can honestly afford.  I was pre-qualified way out of my comfort zone, so I had the lender decrease the amount listed on the pre-qualification letter, this will help you when negotiating with a seller.  For example if you are pre-qualified to buy a home for $250,000 , but know you only want to spend $200,000, you will want the letter to reflect the budgeted amount. 

Do you have a lender?

My recommendation would be to meet with a lender before starting the home buying process, but it’s not necessary, it just depends on what stage you are at in your home buying process.  For me I am very much a gatherer of information, then I will think on the information for awhile and then make the decision.  So I chose my real estate agent first and then selected a lender.  You’re agent will most likely have two to three lenders that he/she works with and can make a referral to you.

Is there an area in town that you would like to focus your home buying search?

Have a good sense of the neighborhoods that you are interested in and even the ones that you don’t want to live in.  As a single person, I was not concerned with school zones/districts as much as I was on location to my employer and family members who also live in the area.  Another thing to consider is new developments around the particular neighborhood and does it align with your needs, such as grocery stores, restaurants and retail.

What are your Must Haves/Wish List/Deal Breakers?

I’ve put together a fun exercise that will help you to have this ready at hand when asked this question.  My real estate agent provided me with a listing that was in my budget and asked me to basically give a review of the home.  He asked me to tell him everything I liked about the house and everything I didn’t like about the house.  While reviewing this home it allowed me to clearly formulate my must haves, wish list items and also the deal breakers.  Here is a free download to help you navigate your first home time buying experience,  Growing Up Texas_ Yes to the House, Exercise !

Happy house hunting! xx- Jennifer

The Lake Walk Town Center: a hidden gem in Bryan

Joining our community in 2017, the Lake Walk Town Center in Bryan has created a wonderful retreat and gathering place for local residents and visitors.

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View from the 75 foot “Lookout” over the Lake Walk Town Center

Saturday mornings I enjoy my short walk to this newly created venue for sunrise yoga with SolYoga.  Feeling relaxed and fully renewed, I meet up with my girlfriends for a cup of Joe across the street at P.O.V. Coffee.  Sitting outside on the patio, I take in take in all the beauty the lake walk offers while catching up with friends.

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Photo Credit:  Lake Walk Town Center, SolYoga.

Tucked away before you enter into the Traditions Club & Community, the Lake Walk Town Center creates a family friendly environment offering you 10 different visitor experiences, 4 of which are completely free!

The Lake Walk is complete with a event lawn, water feature, a 75 foot tower perfect for overlooking the city or gazing at the stars.  Beyond the lake, The Stella Hotel adds another element unlike anything in the Bryan-College Station community.  The boutique hotel is perfect for a staycation, romantic getaway, or even a fun girls night out.  One of my favorite features of the hotel is the speakeasy inspired cocktail lounge, Hershel’s.  When I started my blog this was actually the location of our first onsite photo shoot.  Some of the best shots Shelby took were in the bathroom – yes I’m serious.

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Photo Credit:  Shelby Tiska Photography

From cocktail hour to poolside, The Stella Hotel pool cabanas and day passes are available, if you’re looking for a retreat like atmosphere to cool off this summer.

The Campfire Grill also featured inside The Stella Hotel provides guests with gourmet “farm to fork” meals and another outdoor seating area perfect for cozy conversations next to a campfire inspired fire pits.   I have not yet had the opportunity to stay at the hotel, but it is definitely on my staycation list of places to stay!

The Lake Walk not only provides special events, a beautiful hotel, coffee for days, but they have recently added a shopping experience with a local boutique, The Coterie.  The friendly staff and owner are always there to greet you and help you find your best style.  Full disclosure my wallet cringes a little every time I walk through the door because it’s impossible to walk out empty handed.

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Photo Credit:  Shelby Tiska Photography

This summer, on Friday nights, you can find me at the Lake Walk enjoying their summer concert series and food trucks with friends.  And if you’re looking for something to do during the week stop by The Local on Tuesday’s to explore the popup market featuring local vendors, food trucks and live music.

Here are a complete list of everything the Lake Walk Town Center has to offer, including links of all of the wonderful things to do around the Lake Walk and Stella Hotel!  I have enjoyed the Lake Walk and I hope you can plan your next staycation or visit to Bryan-College Station!  xx-Jennifer

  1. Paddle Boarding on the Lake – visit the Stella Hotel for rentals
  2. The Lookout, 75 ft tower overlooking the city
  3. Poolside Cabanas @ The Stella Hotel
  4. P.O.V Coffee on the Patio
  5. Saturday FREE Yoga by the Lake, 8 AM
  6. Hershel’s Bar @ The Stella Hotel
  7. The Local – popup market featuring local vendors, food trucks and live music
  8. Coterie Boutique
  9. Eats & Beats Summer Concert Series
  10. Campfire Grill

Top 6 Ice Cream Stops in Bryan-College Station

What better way to celebrate National Ice Cream month than to recap my top picks for America’s favorite summer treat.  The Brazos Valley isn’t short on a supply of sweet treats that help cool off even the hottest days of summer.  As you plan your summer vacations or need a quick sugar fix try out some of my favorite local Ice Cream spots in the Brazos Valley.  Next week I’ll share a few more Ice Cream spots that you don’t want to miss around the state and beyond the boarders of Texas!

1.  Blue Bell Ice Cream is a Texas staple and should be on everyone’s “must do” list while traveling through the state.  If you can’t stop by the Brenham factory for a tour, you can find this delicious treat at most grocers and in Downtown Bryan a the local Must Be Heaven Sandwich Shoppe.  Stepping back in time, treat the family to a hand dipped cone of Blue Bell Ice Cream and take a stroll down the historic sidewalks of Downtown Bryan.

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Photo Credit:  Must Be Heaven Sandwich Shoppe in Brenham, Texas                               

2.  Farmhouse Creamery  opened their doors to the Bryan-College Station community in 2016, bringing to south College Station a true taste delicious premium ice cream.  They offer 28 flavors of ice cream, including sugar free and gluten free options, the creamery brings a unique spin to ice cream right here in the Brazos Valley.

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Photo Credit:  Farmhouse Creamery Premium Ice Cream

3.  “Maybe a Cupcake will help?” – Jeff Martin, Founder of Smallcakes Cupcakes and Creamery, created this decadent treat that is just irresistible to any sweets lover.  A brand new location has opened in Bryan-College Station and it’s definitely a sugar shock in the making, you don’t want to miss out!

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Photo Credit:  Smallcakes Cupcakes and Creamery

4.  Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen – Gelato 

Ok this isn’t really Ice Cream… but this rich and creamy Italian favorite seriously had to be on this list.  Made in house, you don’t want to skip dessert when dining at Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen. (Psst order the Trio 8, you will thank me later.)

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Photo Credit:  Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen                                                                                               

5.  Frios Gourmet Pops

A cousin of our favorite summer sweet treat ice cream… Popsicle are making a huge comeback, but in a gourmet way.  Are you planning a fun outdoor event or even a wedding? Frios Pops is mobile and ready to add a unique sweet treat to your next gathering.  Supporters of small businesses and growing local economies, Frios Gourmet Pops are your go to for fresh. frozen. fun.

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Photo Credit:  Frios Gourmet Pops – Aggieland                                                                                              

6.  Have you ever wanted to tryout a science experiment with your ice cream?  Y’all my ice cream isn’t around long enough for me to actually conduct any experiments… but that’s ok because SubZero Nitrogen Ice Cream has you covered.  The staff at SubZero use liquid nitrogen to hand mix your ice cream at freezing temps of 321 degrees Fahrenheit.  Don’t worry, the liquid nitrogen isn’t toxic and it does not have a taste or smell to it.

Bonus: SubZero loves education and they will take their show on the road, this would be a huge hit at a children’s party!

Next week I’ll share a few more Ice Cream spots that you don’t want to miss around the state and beyond the boarders of Texas! xx Jennifer

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Photo Credit:  SubZero Nitrogen Ice Cream                                                                                                    

 

I said YES… to the House

I said YES to the House… I’ve lived in the the Brazos Valley for over 17 years, all of which has been in a renting situation.  This month I’m breaking down all details on the blog, each Friday, telling you about my experiences in buying a home.  Starting today with the lessons I’ve learned along the way to hopefully inspire you to invest in your community and take the steps to buying your first home.

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Lessons I learned and steps to take to prepare yourself for purchasing your first home…
1. You can do this! – I think part of my hesitation about committing to purchasing a home was mostly surrounded by a fear of uncertainty. I wasn’t sure if I was staying in this community, I felt like I would be trapped and “stuck” here forever.
Once I opened my mind to the possibilities of this becoming a true investment property and not my forever home, I relaxed.  I completely dropped the phrase “I can’t” from my vocabulary and started say “Ok, yeah.  I can do this… now how am I going to do it?”  I started planning and pulling together all of my resources to make my dream of becoming a real estate investor a reality.
2.  Finances – this word scares me if I being truly honest.  But at the beginning of the year I sat down and did a complete audit of my finances … I mean a COMPLETE scary audit of everything.  I decided to enroll in Financial Peace University at my church.
If you haven’t read any of Dave Ramsey’s books or taken a course I would highly advise the six week course.  This helped me to set the stage for getting my finances in order and really educating myself on every area of my finances, which has now positioned me to start building wealth through real estate.
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3.  Real Estate Agents – I did what most people do … just take a recommendation from a friend.  If I were to start over again, I would have interviewed the heck out of at minimum 3 agents.  My advise is to think of this as business transaction, because that’s what it is.  Yes, agents are representing you and should always have your best interest at heart, but be mindful that not all agents are treated equally.  At the end of the day this is how they make their income so choose wisely.
Tip:  Signing a an exclusive agent agreement contract… you do not need to sign this immediately, if you’re agent asks you to sign this upfront then there is a problem.  The terms are negotiable, standard is 90 days, but don’t be afraid to ask for 24 hours, 7 days or even 30 days.
4. Talk to your friends – Before I was sure I wanted to buy a home I spoke to my close friends and family members who own homes to learn about their buying experiences.  It’s always good to reach out to people who you know will give you their honest feedback and also help you along the way.  And I can tell you that not all of my friends were high on the idea of me making the jump and actually advised against it.  But be prepared to take the good and the bad though when asking for other peoples opinions.

5.  Pull the trigger – I got to a place of information overload… I surveyed everyone I knew, my finances were in order, and I had an agent.  So what’s the deal you ask?  Fear… yep that one word that get’s us all.  But I had a major self talk moment and reviewed over all the facts and the bottom line is that I love my community… I don’t think there is anyone more in love with the Brazos Valley than I am.  I also knew that all signs pointed to yes and that’s what I did… I said Yes to the House!

I know that I will continue to look back on this process and thank myself for making the decision to invest in my community.  So much pride and strength comes from owning your own home. I never thought I would do this alone, a single person, but I did… and it was awesome.
xx-Jennifer