Cheap Things to do in Houston

In case you missed it, I was a part of C.R.A.F.T.’s series on Creating Free Trips. I was so honored to be a part of such a cool series! Most of you know I’m proud to be born and raised in Houston, TX… This post isn’t a craft or a recipe but might come in handy for someone, so here is a little glimpse into our city:

Welcome to Houston. I actually live in a suburb outside of Houston, but for us Houstonians, a 30 minute commute into town is nothing! Here are some of the thing I love to do with my family and friends without breaking the bank :)

1. Discovery Green Park
This park is awesome, it is 12 acres of green space located right smack dab in the middle of downtown. It has a splash pad and an awesome playground for kids, it has a few restaurants and an upscale bar. I love the super cool color blocked wall that is becoming a popular photo shoot background. There is also a stage that hosts free live bands.

2. Astros Game at Minute Maid Park
Home of the Houston Astros. Now, this isn’t totally free but you can get tickets in the”nose-bleed” section to a game for only $5.00 a ticket. Another plus is that kids 14 and under are free all summer long and on Sundays, your kids can run the bases after the game.

3. Miller Outdoor Theatre:
This is an outdoor theatre located in the Museum District of Houston. There is a small section of covered seats that you can purchase but the best part is the huge hill that is totally free. You can pack a picnic and some blankets and come enjoy the show on the lawn. They even allow alcohol (no glass :) They have plays, and concerts and the Houston Symphony plays here too.

4. Farmers Markets:
Houston has a TON of farmers Markets. I have even done a Farmers Market Bike Tour which is a 15 mile ride stopping at 3 farmers markets. I love them because even if you don’t buy anything (which isn’t possible) most of them have live bands, and artists and samples!

5. Museum District:
Houston has a huge Museum Scene. There are the “big” museums like Museum of Natural Science, History and the Fine Arts Museum who offer free admission on Tuesdays or Thursdays after 2pm and there is also a free museum day once a year. But of our 18 museums, 11 are free everyday of the year.

6. Shopping at 19th Street in the Heights:
The Heights is an area of Houston with a rich culture. It is up and coming for the hip young crowd of Houston. It’s “inside the loop” (Houston terms for city living) but it is affordable. It has a cool vibe with unique restaurants and fun little shops. My little sister actually lives a few blocks from here.

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7. Kemah Boardwalk
The Kemah Boardwalk is about 25 minutes from the city of Houston (in Texas we explain distance in minutes :)  It is located very close to NASA wish is also where I am located! I grew up going to the Boardwalk often but it is actually a huge tourist attraction. There is a nice hotel, a ton of restaurants and bars, games, rides, and a splash pad for the kids.

8. The Beach – Galveston
Galveston is not technically located in Houston, infact someone could probably do a whole C.R.A.F.T. post just about free things to do here. But like I said before, Houston is huge and since its less than an hour drive, Houstonians would easily make a day trip of the beach. I am lucky enough to live in a great suburb that is located right in the middle of both. Between the seawall, the strand (eating and shopping) and the beach you could spend all day here! Parking at a spot on the seawall and packing a lunch make it totally free!

9. The Water Wall
This is Houston’s #1 most photographed location. At any given time, you can see a woman in her wedding dress and family portraits going on. It’s basically just a huge water fountain, but there is a lawn in from so you could bring a picnic too.

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10. Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
This last one isn’t free. But I think it is a must see because there is nothing quite like it. It is the World’s largest rodeo and runs for about a month at the end of February every year. It is like a culture here Y’ALL. We kick it off with the Chili Cookoff, everyone in all of Houston talks about it, all of the local elemantary schools even have go Texan day the week before. Houstonians don’t just go once, we go as many times as we can until the next year. The cool thing- all of the workers are volunteers, so its also the worlds largest group of volunteers in one place. There are concerts every night, but if you just want to experience it, tickets are pretty cheap just for the carnival and livestock show at around $7.00. Put it on your bucket list.

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Thanks yall! I had such a blast exploring my city to find good cheap fun! I hope you visit Houston soon :)
-Taylor

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Color Washing and A Paper Mache Hippo Head

Yes you can believe it, I made a Paper Mache Hippo Head. I guess I am officially crazy now :) You know I love the whimsy. I was a little on the fence with the whole animal bust craze but when I saw the Hippo Bust at West Elm and knew I needed to get on board. Then I saw the paper mache unicorn tutorial at Lil Blue Boo and got to work. Ashley has an amazing tutorial so you can check hers out. And to be honest my hands were way too messy to attempt to take pictures during this project. Paper Mache is messy y’all!

We have lovingly named him ThomNis, which is how Finn pronounces Hippopotamus. I love how he turned out. It’s kind of hard to get a good picture- I guess ThomNis is not very photogenic.

I mounted him on a wooden plaque that I found from Joanns and wanted to keep the wood grain so it would look rustic so I used one of my favorite painting techniques: A Color Wash.


How to Color Wash:
Start with your paint, a paintbrush and a cup of water.

Put a little paint in your cup then add a little water, I mixed 3 different colors of paint. The more water you add the more see through the wash will be; showing more wood grain. Mix and add until you get a good consistency you like. 
Then just paint. Mine went on really watery but as it dried the color became more vibrant. 
Have you color washed anything? Also do you think I’m crazy for making a Hippo Head and hanging it in my living room? At least Ashley put her unicorn in her playroom :) 

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Fresh Peach Dump Cake – a Recipe

Happy National Peach Month… did you even know it was national peach month? Because I didn’t- even before I made this dessert. I guess its a good month for it because I was craving a peach dessert. How intuitive of me :)

It all started when I went to the farmers market and spotted these amazing peaches. I was originally going to juice them (in my juicer) but like I said, I wanted a cobbler of some sort.

I am also a big fan of dump cake. We grew up eating dump cake in our family so I thought our recipe was the only version; canned cherries, pineapple and nuts. With the birth of Pinterest I saw a recipe for pumpkin dump cake and almost died! So I figure we can pretty much dump anything in and call it dump cake.

I wanted to add something else and I had a few plums so I threw those in too.

The beauty of a dump cake is that you can “dump” in whatever you want, throw a box of yellow cake mix on top, add some butter and bake.

I used:
4 fresh peaches and 2 fresh plums

cinnamon and nutmeg

a box of yellow cake mix on top

and butter

Fresh Peach Dump Cake
4-6 fresh peaches chopped
2-3 fresh plums chopped
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 box yellow cake mix
3/4 stick butter
- Preheat to 350
- Mix fresh chopped fruit with spices in the bottom of an oven safe dish
- Sprinkle cake mix over the top
- Slice butter and place on top
- Bake for 45 mins to 1 hr @350

So yummy… what kind of dump cake have you made? Post a link if you have a go to dump cake recipe!

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Fish Soap Party Favor – a Tutorial

Remember Finn’s Fish Party last week? I was pretty casual about the whole thing because the biggest slip-n-slide ever was the main event :) But I did make the kiddies party favors. It was almost a craft fail, but I saved it and it ended up OK. Seriously though, I almost ruined the only homemade aspect of the bday party… tragedy!
When I was looking up fish party ideas, I came across this Martha Stewart Tutorial. Of course, Martha’s “Fish in a Bag Soap” were way better looking than mine- in my defense I found this the Thursday before the Saturday party. My BFF and my mom totally came to the rescue with supplies!
What you need:
Pure Glycerin
Scented Oil (optional)
Plastic Treat Bags 
Fish 
I wanted to find plastic fish but I couldn’t find them anywhere. My BFF called me and told me she found these erasers, perfect! I later found out the fish I wanted were available on Oriental Trading.com and Amazon. But the erasers looked good too.
About the bags, I originally bought craft bags with a pleat on the side, and the soap got stuck after drying… boo! You HAVE to get the bags with only one seam on the side and no folds. My mom came to the rescue because I found this out the day before the party.
What I Did:
Fold the bag down (about halfway)
I used clothespins and an old shoe box and clipped the bag to the side of the box, making sure the bag was touching the bottom too.
My glycerin came pre-cut, so I used one and a half squares of glycerin. Then using a glass measuring cup, I melted it in the microwave for 45ish seconds. That is when I added my Grapefruit Citrus oil, just one drop.
Then pour the melted soap into the bag carefully, you don’t want to get soap on the sides of the bag, a funnel would help but I didn’t have one… procrastinator. 
Carefully place a fish eraser into the bag, make sure not to splash.
Continue with these steps and let them cool. 
I used ribbon to tie them up. Because of the clear color they are kind of hard to photograph but they turned out really cute. And for twelve fishies I spent about $15ish which I was pretty happy with. 
Have you ever made your own soap? I really liked doing it, I want to do another girl craft party with different girly soaps. We could use mint leaves and lemons and other cool fresh ingredients!

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