Nine months ago, the foundation work began on the first slab of the first house at Hill Country Casitas, a new specialty lodging property in Dripping Springs, TX that my husband and I, on some half-cooked idea, decided to build. Today, there are 10 beautiful, incredibly comfortable Casitas, a Texas-sized Fire Pit, and a Pavilion nearing completion where many a memory will be made. How did this happen with our Ma and Pa operation? Lots of hard work, long hours and… friends. Yes, our friends stepped up and gave their time, muscle and sweat, mental acuity and passion for our little project. Throughout the building process, our friends helped us asking for nothing in return. They say you can measure a person’s wealth by their friends. If so, Ron and I are filthy rich.
Fortunately, though challenging at times, my husband Ron is very hard working. In fact he works until the job is done, despite his 59 year old physical being’s limitations. As general contractor and chief laborer, he only subbed out what he couldn’t do himself, mostly due to our deadlines. The construction piece was his baby and boy did he build while saving our project hundreds of thousands. Meanwhile, my last day as an employee with a paycheck (eeeek!) was October 7th. Thus started my career as a full-time Innkeeper. But wait, one must have an Inn to keep to be an Innkeeper. So, Ron built, and I designed and furnished. And marketed and sold. All to the point of literal pure exhaustion. That’s half the story.
One thing in my life that I know is special and often rare, and I am grateful for, is a large circle of good friends. Ron shares this circle too. From our first telling of The Casitas dream, our friends were cheering us on and encouraging us to a point, from our perspective, of surprising confidence. But that’s not all. They put sweat in the game too.
Our friends in the furniture business, Austin’s Couch Potatoes, helped us with great deals on Mexican Imported bedroom furniture, premium mattresses and top of the line sofa beds, and they delivered it all on their days off! Other friends advised on interior design. Another friend staged and took marketing photos in all the Casitas. One of our good friends has worked, and continues to work, daily for us in a desperately needed and sorely underpaid assistant chief laborer position (Robert in the pic to the left). More friends spent their vacation painting directional signs for the property. Another took an entire day to help me do inventory in each Casita. The list goes on.
Then the first weekend in December, some of our best friends spent the weekend at The Casitas. And that Saturday, after a respectable party the night before, our middle-aged friends stacked firewood, treated leather furniture, picked up construction trash, painted wood panel pieces for the grand wall in the Pavilion, unpacked new patio furniture, broke down furniture boxes, moved furniture all over the place, cut trails (called “lopping?”) around the property and so much more.
We were all sore the next day. Instead of continuing to work (aka labor) on Sunday, we went hiking around the property. We would pause at beautiful oak trees or the special and unique Madrone tree. We would stand at Bella Vista (a lookout up high on the far side of the property) and appreciate God’s creation (and our hard work!). We talked about expansion and amenities that could be added for guests. But best of all, we were together.
The next weekend, we opened our 10th and final Casita and had our first wedding party that occupied all 10 Casitas. This was the true test of if this “thing” would work. This is why our friends worked so hard for us the weekend before. This is why we were nervous wrecks for weeks.
On Saturday of the big wedding group weekend, Ron went over to check on things. I was terrified to go. That day was beautiful and warm and our guests, two families about to be united in marriage, were all over the place. They were playing games in the field, they were lounging at the Pavilion, they were visiting on each other’s porches, and they were going for walks together. They were right where they wanted to be. We made them happy. This thing had worked.
Since that weekend, the mother of the bride, the mother of the groom, the grandmother, and the Aunts have all sent us messages saying what a wonderful time they had, the Casitas were perfect for them, and they could all be together and celebrate, amongst other accolades. In fact, I just received another of those emails today. That makes all the hard work, long hours, and stressful days all worth it. But we could not have done it without our friends.
My mother has been gone from us for more than 5 years, but darn if I have not felt her loving support these past months. When I mentioned good friends often being rare, it was my mother that told me years and years ago how fortunate I was to have so many good friends. Mom had a few good friends of course, but never the circle that I have always been blessed to have. This project, especially the last few months, showed us again, the depth and heart of our circle of friends. We love you all. Now, let’s have some wine! And let’s have it at The Casitas!