Milano Trattoria Georgetown

   

Elegant Italian dining with a casual vibe. That’s what you’ll find at Milano Trattoria in Georgetown. It’s a vibrant atmosphere with a hint of sophistication with non of the pretention. And the food…oh the food!

    

The dishes taste so fresh and hearty, and look exquisite! Even down to the fresh baked rolls, you’re likely to exhaust all five senses through your visit.

And the dessert menu takes a lovely meal to a whole new level! It was pretty hard to decide between the tiramisu or the cheesecake. Tiramisu ultimately won, and I regret nothing.

Milano is a long time favorite of mine. I love to visit any time of day, but especially on those casual date nights. It’s familiar, welcoming, and just so delicious!

So if you’re in Wolf Ranch, and find yourself hungry and craving Italian food, do yourself a huge favor and stop in. It’ll probably become a favorite for you, as well! Oh, and don’t forget to try their incredible espresso!

Milano Trattoria is located at 1015 W University Ave in Wolf Ranch, with a second location in Round Rock coming soon!

 

 

All Things Kids- Georgetown

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy All Things Kids!

So much to see, but really…it’s all about that unicorn!
…oooh! And big ol’ firetrucks!

 

This iconic toy store on the square in Georgetown is such a fun place to explore! I really found myself looking through the eyes of a child while looking around for gifts for family members.

 

There are a lot of familiar toys, including iconic toys I played with as a child. And of course, some really cool new things.

Speaking of cool, none of the toys in this store need batteries! This is a store with kid powered toys only!

The best toys are powered by imagination, and these adorable trucks are here to prove that!
Yeah, I’m not gonna lie. I had to buy one for myself. I’m going to blame my assistant, though.

Remember the fun we had with Lincoln logs, and pick up sticks? And how legos are still a favorite (for kids and kids at heart!)? This toy store embraces toys that require imagination and don’t rely on flash. It’s so much fun to see kids getting excited over the charming toys they’ll likely remember fondly as adults.

 

And, of course, they offer a wonderful selection of books!

 

And if fun toys aren’t enough, then what about ice cream? Because what could make an awesome toy store MORE awesome? An ice cream parlor inside! They have a great variety of flavors, too!

 

If you need more convincing to check it out…giant lego pirate should just about do it.

I’d like to put something pirate worthy here, but just really can’t top that this is a giant Lego pirate. It’s cool enough on it’s own.

All Things Kids is located at 703 S. Main Street, Georgetown

The Baked Bear in Georgetown

If you like ice cream and cookies (and who doesn’t?), you need to visit The Baked Bear on Georgetown Square!

 

 

They offer made to order ice cream sandwiches with freshly baked cookies, and the creamiest, most delectable ice cream! And when I say made to order, I mean you select the cookies (chocolate chip on top, gooey cake cookie on bottom for the win!), you pick the ice cream, and you can even have the whole thing rolled in extra toppings!

 

…and they are HUGE!!

…and I do mean HUGE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re not up to that much, you can order a serving of one cookie (ask for it warm. You can thank me later), with a heaping scoop of ice cream in a cup.

It’s like a little cup of being a kid again!

It’s still a very generous serving, I promise you…and worth every decadent bite.

These were for sharing, I swear!

If all that isn’t enough, you can get JUST cookies! I say “just” in the nicest way possible, because they are the yummiest monster sized cookies!

There are vegan, and gluten free options as well! So there is a little something for everyone!

And they offer excellent life lessons, like this!

The Baked Bear is located at 109 East 7th Street in Georgetown.

 

Nancy’s Sky Garden

Few things are more satisfying to the hardcore bruncher’s soul than a sublime new dining option. Add a breathtaking outdoor dining area, and well….that’s just a little bit of heaven.

 

Nancy’s Sky Garden’s new location in Georgetown is just that, with spectacular food and tea to boot! The options are healthy, organic, and offer choices for both vegans and carnivores.

 

If you order hot tea (and I highly recommend this), it’s brought in a charming teapot with minimalist cups to better linger over and enjoy with friends. We requested the Chocolate Mint hot tea, and it was delicious! Balanced, not bitter…the mark of an excellent brew!

 

 

 

The carrot soup was warm and creamy, with just the right amount of flavor blending with the organic flavor of the soup. And it was the perfect size serving for a light brunch! The warm vegetables with noodles seasoned with delightful Asian flair would satisfy even the pickiest eater.

 

And the outdoor dining space, enclosed with old world style stone, was positively beautiful! It makes one feel as if dining al fresco at an old Italian estate, or a very luxe Napa Valley spa cafe.

 

   

The staff is very friendly, and welcomed us so warmly that we really felt like honored guests. And the interior is so light and breezy that you’re sure to leave worries at the door and truly enjoy this zen experience.

 

If you haven’t been to their new location, make plans to check it out! You’ll be so glad you did!

Historically Speaking

The Williamson Museum might not be the first place you notice on the square, but it’s one of the most fascinating! The building sits unassumingly on Austin Avenue with a small, yet elegant facade. In fact, it occupies space formerly created and used by a bank. The charm of that bank is maintained, and creates part of the static display of the museum.

This looks like a “safe” place to keep some cash.
It was all about attention to detail once upon a time. This is a steel safe door painted to resemble wood!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It may seem quite an old establishment, but only the building is old. The Williamson Museum is a newer endeavor to keep our county history alive. Created in 1997, and once encompassing a Round Rock location, they have worked tirelessly to continue to promote our culture and heritage through hands on experiences, compelling displays, and even beloved local events like Pioneer Days, Ghost Tours, and many seasonal events. They also host the Cattleman’s Ball, a Photography Festival , and an upcoming living history event!

Are you brave enough to take the Ghost Tour?

You might feel a step back into history just by wandering into this stately facility. A lot of the original architecture has been preserved, including the stunning penny tile floor, ornate ceilings, and the step up to the old teller booths. And it would not be a complete visit without taking a moment to peek into the old vault!

Original Stagecoach Markers
The original safe. This one is definitely not going anywhere!
This is an actual archaeological dig! How cool is that!?

 

The exhibits change, of course, and the guides are very happy to answer any questions, and share extra bits of history with you. Law and Order in Williamson County is one of the current exhibits, and it is quite powerful…as well as a little amusing.

I was delighted to have some curious questions be satisfied with a deeply enriching conversation. They really do bring it to life! If history class had been anything like this, we might all be avid historians!

This Victorian Mourning exhibit was displayed at the old Round Rock museum, once located in an old Victorian historical home.
I could wander in here for hours. There’s a lot to read!
The courthouse just a few years back. Ok, QUITE a few…
Displays like this old tombstone rubbing make this such a fascinating adventure!

The Williamson Museum is located at 716 S. Austin Ave. Check the website for their hours, and be sure to call ahead to schedule a tour (per their Covid precautions).

 

Roots On Repeat

If you’ve read here for a while, you’ll notice I’ve blogged about Roots in Georgetown before. And yet, here I am again! That’s because it’s such a great place it deserves to mentioned again!

You think it’s cute inside? Check out the patio some time!

 

You see, this town square icon is considered so for good reasons. It’s humble, charming, consistent, and big on quality. The menu has not changed much, because what they do, they do well. The decor might have new murals periodically, but the same quirkiness remains.

 

When you enter, it’s like the world fades away a bit, and you’re enveloped in a perfect blend of past and present. (as well as the aroma of some of the best pizza around!)

Craving hummus? They offer some of the best!
Cheese tray and wine. What could be more relaxing?

 

And it’s not just the good food. Oh no! There is a steady schedule of live music on their very cool stage.

Live music on the stage as it looked just a few months ago.
New, updated stage mural!
This is the place to check for live music served up fresh!

And there is karaoke! If you know karaoke fans, you now they are loyal to their favorite places. And Roots is certainly a favorite! It’s often quite hard to find an empty seat on karaoke night, and karaoke fans fill the place with so much energy, you might even find yourself stepping up to the mic! The Tuesday night crowd is like a family of their own, and are always happy to bring that enthusiasm out in everyone around them.

Karaoke Night At Roots
Photo courtesy of karaoke veteran and enthusiast, Maile Ciccone.

 

Locally owned and operated, the staff at Roots really do make you feel like family. Roots has clung to the belief that kindness really does matter in service, and sincerity must be served right up with it.

It’s the little things like these that keeps Roots a favorite spot for many people in and around Georgetown. It’s safe to say Roots’ roots have grown quite deep, and they show little sign of stopping.

Roots Bistro is located at 118 W 8th St #101, Georgetown, TX

 

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18 Carrot Bakery Strikes Gold On The Square

One of the most magical things about living near a place as beautiful and untouched as Georgetown on the Square is being able to enjoy the local small town feel. This atmosphere attracts a special kind of shop with its own special history. And the new 18 Carrot Bakery brings a whole lot of history and even more flavor to our beloved town square.      

       

 

Shari Cahill’s 18 Carrot Bakery shares generations of family baking experience, bringing recipes from her mother and grandmother to life day after day. Her magnificent creations are made from organic, pure ingredients, and baked from scratch on site each day. You can enjoy breads, cakes, cheesecakes, cupcakes, rolls, and other delights. There are even gluten free, and vegan options! All cakes, pies, and cheesecakes are sold by the slice. You can special order whole cakes and pies, however.

And have you ever heard of Texas Baklava? Made with pecans and local honey, this is a new regional treat you’re sure never to forget and want for more!

 

 

 

 

If sweets aren’t your thing, there are plenty of artisan breads to choose from. Also offered are delicious dinner rolls! You’ll have to call that order in fast if you want any for Christmas, though. They sell out quickly.

 

 

If you’re out for a lazy Sunday wandering the shops around the Square, hit the bakery early for their enormous, sublime cinnamon rolls! They are only made on Sundays, and they sell out fast as well!  I can attest that the carrot cake here is quite likely the best tasting carrot cake in the entire world!

 

And take the time to peruse the stunning selection of Olive Wood serving platters, appetizer trays, forks, and more! You may well find yourself getting a good bit of Christmas shopping done here.
       

        

 

 

They also offer beer tastings! In fact, they have a beer tasting on Dec 12 that is sure to be a fun time! And you’ll also find a carefully curated selection of wines (most notably a spectacular Sauv Blanc from Marlborough region).

 

 

 

Sometimes you hear “when you’re here, you’re family” when you visit a local business, but this one really brings that home. (Pun intended). Shari and her staff greet you warmly and make your visit feel like you’ve just come home.

 

 

 

Bringing her family kitchen to her store is important to her, as evidenced by stunning vintage photos of her mother and grandmother displayed proudly behind the counter.

 

 

 

There is also a charming bit of nostalgia in her display of cookie cutters from her mother and grandmother’s collection. It’s wonderful to have a taste of this depth of family love and history.

 

 

Shari’s passion for bringing something special to Georgetown Square is evident in every part of her beautiful store.

*Video lovingly taken by Shari Cahill and shared with permission

If you are visiting the Square this holiday season, take the time to visit 18 Carrot Bakery! Your taste buds and inner child will be so glad you did!

18 Carrot Bakery is located at 710 South Austin Ave, directly across the street from the courthouse.

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3 Amazing Holiday Stovetop Potpourri Recipes

Nothing brings a holiday together quite like the smells that make it so distinct and memorable. Smell is such a powerful part of our happy memories, and if you’re like me, you want to keep that spirit alive!

Here are a few stovetop potpourri recipes that are simple, smell divine, and are sure to become a holiday staple!

This first one is such a traditional holiday scent that you’ll want to keep some bubbling away through the whole Thanksgiving and Christmas season! This just smells like Christmas!

All you need is this:

1 cup of fresh cranberries

1 orange

2-3 sprigs of rosemary

2-3 cinnamon sticks

2 tsp cloves (optional, but it adds that little bit of extra)

Simply slice the orange, add all ingredients to a pot, add water, and bring to a simmer and enjoy the smells! Be sure to check on the pot, as you’ll need to add more water.

 

Now, if you want a cleaner, less fruity scent, this is a good alternative. In fact, this is pretty much what Williams Sonoma smells like. Now who doesn’t love that!

For this recipe you’ll need:

2 sliced lemons

2 rosemary sprigs

1 TBSP vanilla (can use a vanilla bean, but be sure to split it)

Put all ingredients in a pot and bring to simmer. As with the first recipe, check on the water level now and then. This scent might smell familiar, as this is close to the scent that greets you at a Williams Sonoma store. This recipe is perfect year round, not just the holiday season!

 

If you prefer the fresh outdoors and want to bring it indoors, try this option. The amounts are not specific, but the aroma is heavenly!

cinnamon sticks

whole nutmeg berries

cloves

rosemary

sprigs of pine with the needles

a tsp or 2 of jojoba oil

Same heating instructions as the others. And if you enjoy the woodsy smell, this is also a great year round potpourri!

 

Now all of these can be warmed in a small crockpot, but set it to high, and leave off the lid. You’ll still need to add more water now and then, and the scent might not be quite as strong. But it is a great option for lingering holiday aromatherapy.

I hope this helps you make the most of the holiday season! Let me know on Facebook or Instagram if you tried any of these, and how you liked them!

Happy Holidays!

 

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History Etched In Stone

Every town has a history, and at this time of year, I thought it fitting to explore a little history in the form of visiting a very old cemetery in Round Rock

The Round Rock Cemetery, also known as the Old Sam Bass Cemetery, was established in the early 1850’s and is the resting place for many old pioneers, bandits, heroes, and of course, children. In fact, the first resident of the Round Rock Cemetery is said to be a young girl around age 11.

 

A quick look around, especially on a cool, cloudy day, ensures you this is a peaceful place. The stillness almost invites to listen to the whispers of the dead as they tell their stories etched in stone. Some are quite readable, while some stones are deeply worn.

            

This is the resting place of  A.W. Grimes, a local lawman killed in a shootout in downtown Round Rock in 1878. It’s also the eternal home of Sam Bass, the outlaw responsible for the death of Grimes, and who also died as a result of that shoot out. You’ll probably recognize both of those names from the roads named after them.

        

Being a very old place, there are signs of disrepair, but there are also efforts to bring things back. And it isn’t unusual to see a new grave among the old. Out of respect, the new grave sites will be left out of this blog.

     

     

Walking through history like this is a humbling, yet peaceful experience. Although as peaceful as it in the light of day, I really would not want to be here at night.

Round Rock Cemetery is located on Sam Bass Road, just west of Chisholm Trail.

 

 

Top Phone Scams and How to Avoid Them

 

I’m sure you’ve gotten a few of those pesky calls yourself. You know the ones. They leave a dire message, and you aren’t sure if you should call back or not. Logically you know, but they sound so convincing!  So how can you protect yourself from being scammed? By knowing what they are all about!

Typical scams include the well known IRS scam where the caller informs you that you owe the IRS a large sum of money and must pay right now or be arrested. You are instructed to pay via some type of gift card, and must stay on the line while you go fetch them. You may also be instructed emphatically not to tell the clerk what you are doing. Sounds like a legitimate deal, right? They will ask you to activate the gift cards, usually google play/iTunes, but sometimes Visa cards. Then they require the code on the card which gives them access to the money. And there you go. You just got scammed.

Even the IRS has gone scam buster with public service announcements like this one.

 

There are other types of pretty well known scam stories. Just recently I received a call from someone claiming to be with the FBI and that my Social Security card had been used in connection with a crime. This one always goes the same way. They ask if you’ve ever visited Texas. (No, I just live here…but whatever). No matter what you answer, they then go on to tell you that a car was rented in your name, some crazy amount of drugs were found in it, as well as weapons (sometimes), and blood (usually). And all this is somehow connected to your Social Security card. Makes no sense, but they will get aggressive to try to intimidate you into believing this bad fiction. The scam here is pretty sketchy. They demand payment to lift a warrant for your arrest. I mean, don’t federal officers demand payment not to apprehend you for a crime on a regular basis? No, this one just falls apart.

 

A brand new scam just popped up the last few days that is similar to the Social Security scam calls, but a lot more aggressive. In this one, a person claiming to be from Homeland Security calls you claiming several packages in your name were stopped at the USPS and you are on the hook for some really bad things regarding this packages (the “illegal content” changes from call to call, if they are even clear). The caller becomes quite aggressive about the fallout from the illegal activity and you will be urged to react very quickly or face immediate arrest. What do they urge you to do, exactly? Gift cards!! You can stop your immediate “arrest” by buying them gift cards. In one call, the scammer actually specified Target gift cards. Classy.

 

Yet another type of scam is the Tech Support/Computer support scam. These scams are normally targeted at older folks who the scammers assume have limited knowledge of computers and digital security. They will claim your virus support has run out on your computer, but for the low, low price of $299 you can get a whole 3 years of 24/7 support!  Note: McAffee and Norton, legitimate anti-virus programs, cost far less and are actually reliable.

 

Another computer scam is the “Windows Refund” scam. Now this one gets a teeny bit confusing. There are a lot of steps. First they will tell you that you overpaid some moderate amount on something they think you may remember having purchased for/on your computer a few years ago, and now they want to refund you the unused amount. To complete this process they will ask to get into your online bank account and have you authorize or verify a dollar amount. While you do that, they have used a fake window on your screen to show that it now looks like the amount of your refund is now 10 times that, is in your account now, and you owe all that money back. So you can fix this by…you guessed it…buying gift cards to repay the amount (that doesn’t exist). I know this one sounds a little confusing, but it’s actually pretty entertaining to hear.

 

Travel scams are similar to computer support scams. You’ll be given a great non-existent deal on travel, and an option to pay a suspicious amount for travel insurance. If they succeed in convincing you, you will be out a significant amount of money, and no trip!

 

 

 

I encountered a really strange on last week. Russia called me. No name. No location. Just “Russia” and a phone number. They left no message, and haven’t called back. I’m a little insulted, actually. But, and this is a new one for me, the scam happens when you call back to a line that charges YOU, BY THE MINUTE for the call, and the scammer will keep you on the line for as long as possible. It’s kind of an old scam with the 976 numbers from the 80s, with a modern twist.

These scammers even try to use Medicare to try and steal from you. A scammer will call and claim to represent Medicare, Social Security, or an insurance company. They will say that new Medicare, Social Security, or supplemental insurance benefits cards are being issued or that your file must be updated. They will asks you to verify or provide personal banking information, which is then used to scam you out of a lot of money. They also may try to convince you that you need to replace you card to get the personal information they need to steal from you.

With all this, how can you keep yourself and your money safe from these predators? Here’s a few simple ways to tell:

  • The scammer will be an unknown person who calls out of the blue.
  • The scammer will likely have a distinct accent.
  • The call often comes from a number that looks local, and therefore has potential to be legitimate (spoofed numbers).
  • The scammer will threaten with arrest and use intimidation tactics to scare you into immediate action.
  • They will ask for gift cards for payment.

Just remember, the IRS will NEVER call you on the phone. They only contact through mail. The IRS and FBI will NEVER ask for payment via gift cards. Threats of arrest are false, and meant to scare you. (Though if you did leave your Texas rental car full of drugs on the side of the road, that’s all on you…) Never trust a random caller regarding anything about Medicare. Call your medicare representative! And lastly, never EVER let anyone connect to your computer remotely unless you have absolute verification that the tech support you called is your actual, real tech support. Call someone like Geek Squad if you aren’t sure.

Here are some audio samples of some of these scams. They have been reviewed for language as best as possible, but some language may have been missed. Listen at your own risk. These are all YouTube video links.

Fake IRS Scam Message

Microsoft Scam Example

Medicare Scam Call and Info

Airline Ticket/Travel Scam Example

Social Security Scam Examples

There are quite a few out there, and they change every day. Keep informed, and stay cautious, and you should be safe. Oh, and be sure to share this with friends and family. Especially your older ones. They are most likely to be targeted, and definitely need to know about these scams.