Becoming a Master Naturalist

Last year I decided to try something completely different…I became a Texas Master Naturalist. I know, it surprised me t00! I enjoyed each and every one of the classes, which included topics from Archaeology to Laws, Regulations and Ethics. All of the speakers were experts in their field and so passionate about the subject and teaching everyone, it made for a wonderful learning experience.

What is a Naturalist? Heck, I wondered the same thing myself. I decided to take the plunge to help educate my clients and it was actually some of my incredible clients that got me involved in taking the classes. Have I mentioned  lately, what amazing clients I’ve had over my fourteen years as a real estate agent? Okay, so basically a Naturalist is a person who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty, literally and to do so we learn about, then educate others about plant and animal species by being a volunteer. What interested me is that there are so many projects a person can become involved in, from planting gardens at local parks to educating school children about nature. Nothing better than putting down the electronics and getting out to see all that nature has to offer. I did a Top Ten Presentation about Texas Native Plants and I learned so much and am certainly available for speaking at your next event! Ha! No, really! I love to share my presentation anytime.

The chapter I belong to is named after Gideon Lincecum, an internationally known botanist, who began his life learning from the Choctaw Nation. He discovered Indian herbal medicine and ended up transferring that knowledge into a botanic system. In 1935, he traveled from Mississippi to Texas, the outdoor techniques he studied with Native Americans came in quite useful. He ended up settling in Washington County, near Yegua Creek on land he paid seventy five cents an acre for and called it Long Point. It was there he began to study everything from  birds and plants to the weather. Do look him up, he’s was one delightful human being.

In the next few weeks, I will be briefly writing about my experience becoming a Texas Master Naturalist, so stay turned, it will be interesting and but of course, fun!

Welcome Home

It’s that time of the year, when the days get longer, watermelon margaritas are made and them pesky swallows come back. It starts simply enough, they fly by and take a look around the front porch.

Then you start to see the little droplets of mud, which from there quickly forms a nest. You want to get it down, you want it to go away, you want to make it just disappear. It’s messy, you know what birds are going to do.
Don’t look into their beady little eyes, please don’t say, “aren’t they cute” and definitely don’t give in and say oh okay you can stay.
While I was doing my research on these little birds, I came across some interesting information.
They enjoy being around humans, hence the reason they don’t go build out in my old cattle barn, but choose to be close to me on my front porch. Me and my cats I should say, well at least Mister Tiggs.

Says we humans tolerate this because they have insect-eating habits, heck Mister Tiggs doesn’t even have that quality.
I also read that acceptance was reinforced in the past by superstitions regarding the bird and its nest. What? Really!
Turns out there are cultural references to the barn swallow in literary and religious works due to both its living in close proximity to humans and its annual migration.
Oh my stars, guess who’s living on my front porch…

They are quite nice to be around. the babies come hungry and keep their mother busy, until very soon, they begin to take flight. They’re sweet to see growing up, then still try to stuff themselves into their nest.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is they can stay. They’re home. No matter the mess or fuss, they have chosen to make my home, their home. There are lessons we can learn from these tiny feathered creatures. How to nuture, to be fearless and to love.  It”s interesting to me that so much can be learned from one small bird. One night I sat out on the front porch with my Dad drinking wine. The mother perched above us, sitting on her eggs and the father came along and sat close. It was a very calming feeling and we all felt safe, because he was on watch. 

Now, I must admit in the past, I’ve tried to deter them from their nesting endeavors. Going as far as to spend $9.95 on a life size plastic owl in hopes he would scare them away. Let’s just say, they were not fooled for a second.

Instead, I watch little heads peek over at me, their mother feeding them and then as they fly out of the nest.

So, now we live in harmony together, I’ve nested here, so shouldn’t they do the same.

I’m off now to power wash the nest…just kidding. she sitting on her second batch of eggs!

Chuck wagon




Antique Week

Did Someone Say Antiques….

Welcome to Marburger Farm, a little slice of heaven just outside Round Top, Texas. Where every six months the countryside is turned into a magical place indeed. It’s a fascinating mix of old, unique, creative treasures looking for a new home. Meet a new best friend that you’ll love forever.

Might be a fifties’ glider for the front porch, a 1920’s piece of pottery for your kitchen or a one-of-a-kind piece of Texas history in the form of a gorgeous piece of furniture. You will definitely want to have a look at the early 1900 Texas chuckwagon storage box made from a Ford Motor Company shipping crate, it’s unbelievably incredible.

For these items and many more come by Tent B at the northeast end to see Sarah and her collection of Texas primitives. Step back in time and special memories of childhood will rush to present day. Sarah works hard to bring the very best to her Marburger Show, her eye for quality vintage Texas treasures is second to none. One of her specialties is vintage concrete accents for your garden, front porch or deck. From large concrete planters to rock hard squirrels to a unique Wagonwheel turned into a table, her pieces will give your place a lovely look of whimsy.

Looking to decorate with a western theme, Sarah has a variety of collectible spurs, vintage Western Texas straw hats and hard to find tiny Lone Star beer glasses to “cowboy up” your space. How about a cowhide fainting couch and a rocker complete with let’s just say … an Asian rug, this could possibly be her very best invention today! We’re going to call it her Asian western style!

Do you get out to the country in the next few days because Marburger Farm will be awaiting you until Saturday … come find something you just can’t live without.

The Dixie Motel

The Dixie Motel

The Dixie Motel

One of the best parts about real estate, is that you never know where the road may lead. And I don’t mean because I’m directionally challenged, aka I can get lost in a neighborhood, but rarely on a back country road. Hopefully, this doesn’t put fear in potential buyers.

The road to the Dixie Motel is off of Main Street and the vintage, lighted sign directs you to one of Brenham’s iconic places. When I noticed it came on the market, I thought interesting. Then, a phone call from a friend took me all the way down to the Dixie Motel where we met Mrs. Patel, a truly remarkable woman. She and her husband had owned and run this motel for over thirty years, the last few since her husband’s pasting, it’s been all Mrs. Patel. They raised two daughters in the motel, who of course had to pitch in to keep the business going.

One thing led to another and low & behold my friends are now the proud new owners, ready to breath new life into a Brenham landmark.
It was destiny, when the wife purchased a vintage 60’s Dixie Motel postcard for her husband for Valentine’s Day.

After closing, we were invited to a lunch to celebrate the sale with the Patel’s and their extended family. They served us authentic Indian cuisine, featuring:

Bhel puri – puffed rice with potatoes onions beans and lots of different sauces

Samosa chat – fried potato samosa with a curried chic peas on top

Pani puri – little fried puffs with potatoes, onions, beans inside and you added the mint water to it

Jalebi – fried orange colored dessert

Special Thank you to Amu Patel for sending me the names and decriptions of the foods.

It was so delicious and exciting to eat foods I’ve never eaten before, believe me, it won’t be the last time. Mrs. Patel’s daughters told us stories about their memories growing up at the motel. I learned the majority of their family owned motels all through Texas and had raised their families in the same way, One of the uncles is a deli owner, yum.

They are all very close knit and believe in taking care of each other, which I truly admire. Mrs. Patel has moved in with one of her daughters and has planned her retirement accordingly, asking for a little business to run. I am sure it won’t embarrass her it I tell you, she’s in her 70’s. Getting to know her through this transaction was very enlightening to me. She treated myself and my buyers with such kindness and respect. And I certainly hope she felt the same way, because I know she was going through a process of letting go in order to move forward. She touched my heard and I will never forget her.

Now, the Dixie Motel is set to move forward with a nod to the past and a heart for the future.


photoA definition of time, the continuum of experience in which events pass from future through the present to the past.

As the new year begins, it has us reflect on the one in our rearview mirror. For me 2013 was a whirlwind of life changing events, from the wonderful to the impossibly sad. Losing someone we love, always makes us wish we had more time, be sure to let people in your life know how you feel.
Time is such a powerful gift to give and having a home to share with your family and friends is truly a pleasure. I love my home, it’s vintage, unique and it gives me a special feeling of belonging. It’s a reflection of me, not terribly showy, but a comfortable place. A front porch to sit, while you listen and watch the world go by Chappell Hill style. It’s relaxing indeed and does make me think of all the fun times my home has seen in the past thirty years. That’s right, this past New Year’s Eve was my anniversary moving to Chappell Hill. My first residence was a mobile home leased from the one and only Victor Bilski and then I moved around the corner to the house owned by the Catholic Church. My landlord was Father John, he was a great guy and told myself & my roommate that, we didn’t have to be hermits, that we could have parties, if only he knew…
Time, it just ticks.
Since my parents have moved closer to me in the past year or so, I’m sure enjoying spending time with them. They are a very funny, goofy, kindhearted, interesting pair of folks that keep me entertained and vice versa. I wouldn’t trade these times with them for anything in the whole wide world.
So, take time to reflect and make time to spend time with family and friends. Invite a group over to enjoy everything you love about your home. For time is irreplaceable, we can’t get it back once it is gone.

Being Thankful

Being thankful everyday. My biggest thanks is to my parents, without their guidance, love and support, I won’t be the person I am today. That includes being a horse girl from day one, which included my Dad hauling a rather cankerous Shetland pony a long distance to present it to me as a gift. Cricket she was called and I guess looking back, I have to thank her too. As many things she did to me, oh let’s see kick, bite, buck, step on, well I could go on for a while, I still loved her. She taught me no matter what is thrown at you, in her case literally, keep your chin up and keep shoveling! Ha. I do have to admit something here in her defense, when she came to me we snapped a photo together. My arm around her head, me with my blue cat eye glasses her with a beautiful blonde forelock. I must have thought in my seven year old mind that she indeed needed a trim, so in yet another photograph, same lovingly arm around her, but this time forelock cut straight across and a very unpleasant look in her eye. She was not a fashion forward pony.

I could type for days about horses I’ve loved and learned from, but today, I’d like to just say how lucky and thankful I am to have landed in Chappell Hill some thirty two years ago. To live in a home I truly hug that was built in 1893. I am thankful for the carpenters who took such care to craft this special place, I call home. To have learned so much history about Chappell Hill from our museum, is a special treat. To have met the delightful Nate and Judy Winfield who shared with me their wonderful memories, photos and memorabilia of the early days of this unique piece of Texas. All Our Yesterdays, a Brief History of Chappell Hill is a book they both penned and is truly a step back to understand and relive the early days of the past. Pick it up today for yourself or pass it on as a gift.
So, go out today and dog gone it be thankful!

Chappell Hill Christmas Home Tour

The air is cool and crisp in beautiful Chappell Hill today as I type. That’s right it’s almost December and we are celebrating with the Christmas Country Home Tour on Saturday and Sunday, December 14 & 15th and you’re invited to view some very special properties.
The Myrtle Providence House built in 1845 has a sweeping front porch. The home is filled with gorgeous antiques and decor. Walk through a gracious one acre garden, complete with cottage used as a Bed & Breakfast that features a five foot stain glass window.
T&L Ranch has been lovingly turned in a classic Chappell Hill ranchette featuring black Angus cattle and their mascot, Merle a stunning Longhorn steer. You’ll enjoy this home with it’s wonderful style, promising to get you in the Christmas spirit.
Summerhill sits on a spectacular hillside and features three homes. One of them is a Texas farmhouse replica and another a restored late 1800’s home. Come and delight at the special vintage pieces, family heirlooms and country French classics. A real treat will be viewing the many quilts made by nationally acclaimed quilt makers from Alabama. Don’t miss a chance to see these truly wonderful pieces of American history.
The Chappell Hill United Methodist Church is one of the finest jewels Chappell Hill has to offer. The original church built in 1851 and was rebuilt after the 1900 Galveston hurricane. Take note of the original pews and the Texas pine wood walls built by Henry Christen Brandt. The stained glass will take your breath away and leave you inspired by the quiet beauty. The Sunday school children gave the church the picture over the altar of the Last Supper in the late 1940’s. You’ll be so glad you came to spend some time with us in Chappell Hill!

Now, naturally I’ll do what I do best…not make dinner, but make reservations or in this case order up some delicious tamales. Come see me in the Rock Store for some treats to warm your tummy. I will have homemade chili, freshly baked cakes and cookies. Don’t worry I’ll have all the fixings for chili pie too! Now that sounds gooood.
Iced tea and flavored coffee will also be available.
I will open at 9am and be selling tickets and will have maps on hand. Don’t be scared away by the fact that I am going to make some cookies. As many of you may know, I have a room in my home that has a cooling box and some sort of device that gets really hot. Pretty sure it’s called a kitchen. No worries, the recipe says it’s so easy a five year could do it, so I’m good. Ha.
Please do call me for more information at 979-203-0815. Look forward to seeing you.
Pre sale tickets are available at the Bluebonnet House in downtown Chappell Hill. Or visit for all the details.

My Three C’s to Home Staging

Staging is one of the keys to getting your house sold in a timely manner. I created a method called the three C’s, which are clean, color and clutter.
Number one clean, should be self explanatory, but alas it is not. You will want to make sure everything is perfectly clean from the garage to each and every bathroom. This does include the outside too. Do this, walk out away from your house, then turn around and give it a good look. Do you think you would buy it? Clean out the flowerbeds and replant some colorful new flowers. Keep the yard mowed, edged and leaves raked. Smell goes hand and hand with clean, having a control on the odor is a very important element too. I’ve had buyers turn on their heels and head right out the door, with just one whiff.

Color…if you have some wild ones going on in the house, paint is an inexpensive fix. It can and will change the whole feel of a house. Say you have a themed room, once upon a time your favorite football team was the Minnesota Vikings and that encouraged you to paint a room purple and gold. Buy some paint! I do speak with some experience, I had to wear a purple bridesmaid dress, because of the Vikings, the groom’s favorite football team. Needless to say, I looked like Barney with a bow instead of a tail coming down the aisle. Gosh, let’s get back to color, honestly I’ve seen crazy colors scare even the most brawny man.

Clutter, I believe I’ve kept the most important for last. First of all, when we as realtors photograph your place it’s very telling. When a room is packed with too much, it shows on photos, which is what the general public will see on the Internet. Play a little game I like to call like it or spike it, heck you might find some good items to re gift. You’re moving, so have a garage sale and/or rent a storage unit. You want to de personalize by removing personal photos, books and that collection of ceramic otters. Buyers need to be able to move around freely and imagine their belongings in the house. Clearing the clutter does include outside, the garage and front and back porches.

Just a little time and work will make your house shine and buyers smile. Good luck.

Welcome to My Blog

Welcome to my blog. This is my first entry, pretty exciting!
In the weeks to come I will be discussing the world of real estate, Donna style.

Never thought my life would take me into this world, but here I am and loving it, well most of the time. Ha!

Once upon a time a gal became a real estate agent. She felt well equiped since her background including being an animal technician, polo
horse trainer and stand-up comedian. The comedy, I’ve come to realize has served me very well in real estate. In the weeks to come that will become very clear.

I can say, being a realtor is very rewarding. Not only to I get to see fabulous properties and homes I’d never be allowed on without someone screaming, security, security, but I’ve met the most fascinating people.

That is truly what being a realtor is all about, relationships, building and nuturing them. Whether a person is buying or selling, it’s a life changing experience. It’s extremely gratifying to me to be a part of a life change for people.

So, saddle up and get ready for some fun, tall tales and some useful information along the way.