Friday, August 4, 2017

Feed and house the birds!

We're having a special sale this week at Cow Palace.  All of our handmade birdhouses and feeders are $5.00 off!  These houses and feeders are handcrafted from fallen trees, old tin, barbed wire and many other cast-off items their creator finds of interest to add to his creations.  I have one in my backyard beside our outdoor room and I can attest to the fact that birds love making their homes in these houses!  Besides being functional, the houses and feeders are a delight to simply look at.  Although the feeders are pretty much the same design, each house is totally unique.  Here are just a few examples of the bird houses and feeders we have at Cow Palace...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Next up...Rita McKay

A resident of Pflugerville, Texas, Rita McKay is the sister of Bob Ragan, one of Florence's local stone artists and co-owner of Texas Carved Stone.  The Ragans must have received more than their fair share of talent, as Rita is as creative as Bob, although her chosen medium is fiber and textiles, rather than stone.  She is a skilled seamstress, knitter and crocheter, creating beautiful items for market, as well as for family and friends.  Using a method known as felting, Rita first crochets and knits hats, purses, totes and accessories for the home, then puts them through a hot water treatment that shrinks the wool to an extremely tight weave.

We have several of Rita's creations in the shop, and we invite you to stop by and see the skill and beauty she weaves into each piece.

The Weekender

Felted forest green bag with button closure.

Felted red wool cross-body bag with leather shoulder strap and  and silver button closure.

Red and turquoise felted trivets or hot pads and coaster sets.

Felted ivory cloche with button embellishment.
I failed to capture a picture of Rita's wine cozies, which are as beautiful and colorful as they are functional.  Drop by and see ALL her creations at Cow Palace today!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Next up...Kathy Combs

Kathy Combs may call The Woodlands home, but she has some pretty strong ties to Florence, Texas.  Her cousin, Cindi Lumpkin Clanton, lives here, plus she's a longtime friend of mine from our college days.

Kathy is one talented lady.  She can do just about anything she sets her mind to, and does it all well--crocheting, knitting, painting, writing.  She's even tried her hand at a potter's wheel!  At the moment, her favorite means of expressing her many talents is through jewelry design.  Featured on several occasions in Belle Armoire Jewelry, a publication of Stampington & Company, Kathy's most recent article focuses on creating patina through experimentation.  While designing, she works with a plethora of tools and materials to create her jewelry--wire, beads, paper, paint, fire, seashells gathered from the Texas coast and even spent shotgun shells, which seem to be a favorite of Cow Palace customers.  A bit of a traveler--okay, she's a confessed globe trotter--Kathy has traipsed across the USA and several foreign countries with her husband, Kim, and sons Kyle and Kendall.

Now let's take a look at what a lady with a penchant for fire and metal can create!

Special thanks to Kathy for sharing the pics I've used!  Drop by the Cow Palace and see Kathy's jewelry on display.  You can also see more of her work on her website.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Next up...Stefanie Brooks, aka Phishstuff

Stefanie Brooks plays with fire.  Literally.  Using a method known as lampworking, Stef creates beads from glass to use in many of her designs.  A midwestern gal, she now lives in Florence, where she continues to craft beautiful things from a deeply rooted desire to express her creativity.  She continually expands her use of color, material, inspiration, and skill in glass bead making, metal craftsmanship, and construction to integrate new techniques and looks.

I first met Stef when she visited Cow Palace's previous location and immediately sensed I'd made a new friend.  She displayed her jewelry, beads, letter openers and push pins at our very first Ladies' Night Out, then returned for another event to demonstrate the art of lampworking.  Besides her jewelry designs, I happen to know she is also an avid crocheter and I'm trying to convince her to bring some of her rugs to Cow Palace, as I know there are a lot of folks who would enjoy owning one of her textile creations.

Here's a sample of some of Stef's work.  If you notice the quality of the photography is better than my usual attempts, it's because I stole the pics from her website.  Sorry, Stef!

To see more of her work, stop by Cow Palace, or you can also visit her website

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Artists, Artisans and Craftsmen

From the beginning, it was my goal to represent as many artists, artisans and craftsmen from the Florence area as possible.  The bonus for me was that the merchandise in my shop would be unique and, in many cases, only found within the walls of Cow Palace Emporium.  I'm happy to say that my goal is quickly coming to fruition!

Over the next few weeks, I want to introduce you to a few of the artists, artisans and craftsmen whose work I display.

BB Barrick...A native of the High Plains, Bill Barrick was raised on the family farm near Abernathy, but recently moved to Florence where he is remodeling a building he moved onto his property for use as his art studio.  Known around Texas and the nation as a leading chronicler of life in the developing Southwest, his ability to capture on canvas the spirit of rural America with its stark beauty, hardship, and simple joys is the driving force and appeal of his art.

I had the pleasure of meeting Bill about three years ago, while organizing the Florence Community Art Show.  Not only was Bill willing to display his work at our Art Show, he offered to set up his own rolling art display boards on which to display many of the other artists' work.  He went a step further and insisted upon hanging the other artists' work.  A very generous and helpful man, indeed!

Since our initial introduction, I've gotten to know even more about Bill.  He is an active member of his church and volunteers for many of the programs benefiting the Florence community, including helping with litter pickup through our Adopt A Street Program, and the distribution of food and gifts for the less fortunate during the holiday season.

I'm very fortunate to own a BB Barrick original, which hangs above the fireplace in my home.  Here are a few of his prints that are on display in Cow Palace.

I invite you to drop by the shop and see Bill's work in person, as my photography skills fall short of capturing the beauty of his work.  All his prints are professionally framed, as well as signed by the artist.  I think you will agree that Bill not only possesses an outstanding talent, he is a skilled chronicler of America's past, and a heck of a nice guy, to boot.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is quickly approaching.  Sunday, May 14th, to be exact.  Have you done your shopping yet?  If not, Cow Palace has an excellent selection for you to choose from! 

One of our newest lines since our big moo-ve to 211 E. Main is Southern Blessed.  We have candles and wax melts in a variety of scents.  One step inside Cow Palace and you're greeted with the most heavenly fragrance, the result of Southern Blessed wax melts in burners scattered around the shop.

The new rage is silicone stemless wine glasses.  Have you seen them yet?  We have two colors on hand and are anxiously awaiting more colors scheduled to arrive soon.  These are literally flying out the door!  If you want one, you better hurry!

Another new item at Cow Palace are cards created by Wayne Ford, an artist from Houston.  Wayne and I had never met prior to this past weekend, yet we have known each other for years.  What??  Yep, it's true.  Wayne is a friend of my sister Debbie, and when I was searching for just the right 'look' for the cover of my first romance novel, Debbie suggested Wayne.  The rest, as they say, is history.  I thoroughly enjoyed giving him a tour of my new shop, as well as, Florence's Main Street.  His card collection is entitled "Truth and Light" and features photographs he's taken over the years of religious signs he found on fence posts, trees and other places while driving country roads.  To quote Wayne, "Light is the medium of the photographer, but it is also the direction to which these images point.  Truth & Light is about accepting the invitation, listening for the truth, and getting back to the soul of the written word."

The boxed set contains twelve note cards printed in two colors on 100 lb. Cougar Opaque Super Smoothe cover, with matching A-6 envelopes.  They are black on the inside.  Here's a peek at some of his cards... 

Have you seen something just right for your Mother's Day gift shopping needs?  If not, we have lots more to choose from!  We are stocked and ready to help you make just the right selection for your Mother's Day shopping.  

Saturday, March 11, 2017


As in life, remodeling and renovations happen in stages.  In order to best show you the stages the back lot has undergone, let's go back in time to the purchase of the property in December 2016.  This first pic is taken from near the back door of 211 Main and reveals a view of the back lot of 209 Main next door.

To point out a few elements.... Notice the chain link fence with the Concertina wire along the top edge, the piles of debris, the tangly vines, the tree.

This photo was taken from the back of the lot and reveals the lot directly behind 211 Main.  Again, there is a lot to look at.  Odd pieces of machinery, equipment, another view of the chain link fence and lots and lots of weeds.

Now we are going to fast forward a a couple of months.  

This shot is taken from the back of the lot and toward the back of 209 Main.  The building in the forefront is the rear of the Florence Public Library.  There is still quite a bit of stuff lying around, but a ton of debris has been removed.  The wall of the library is awesome!  It looks like it is constructed of concrete, but that's just a guess.  We have plans for that wall, and we will be working with the Library to bring those plans to fruition.

Fast forward again...

Oh, my.  Things are definitely shaping up.  All the debris is gone, although the last load is piled into the dump trailer you see parked there.  I can't even begin to tell you how many hours went into scooping, loading, pitching and raking to get to this point.  We found a couple of surprises along the way.  First up was layers and layers of carpet.  Yep.  Carpet.  Each layer of carpet was covered with a layer of dirt, so it took awhile and some heavy equipment to remove all the carpet.

This view is of the back of both buildings, 211 and 209 Main.  Once the carpet was removed, we found a couple of more surprises.  One was an underground propane tank.  A very old propane tank.  It was disconnected long ago, but the layers of carpet and debris concealed its existence.  

Brett Adams and his crew are responsible for the most recent heavy work going on in the back lot.      At one time a 50' x 30' metal and wood barn stood on the back lot near College Street.  At one time, the barn was used to store coffins.  When the previous owners purchased the property in the late 1990's, the barn was in disrepair, so they chose to push it over and covered it up with road base.  We had hoped the barn would be exposed during the back lot's leveling process, but only bits and pieces surfaced.  Melanie and I have enjoyed walking through the freshly turned earth and finding all kinds of treasures.  Broken bits of vintage glass of every color, old tiles, bits and pieces of iron, railroad spikes, old horseshoes...and trash.  Lots and lots of plain old trash.

Above is the most recent picture of the view of the back lot from the rear door of 211 Main Street.  I took it this morning just as those clouds you see in the background opened up and it started raining.  Quite a difference, isn't it?  Melanie and I have big plans for this back lot.  Think secret garden.  Lots and lots of fabulous color, with some pavers and pathways where needed.  I love birds, so there will be birdhouses and bird feeders.  Since water is a problem, we plan to install a rain barrel and capture water that comes off the roof and use it to water the plants.

Melanie is planning to offer the largest portion of the property out back for additional parking for folks visiting Main Street.  This is quite a gift to the folks of Florence, as well as visitors to our community, as this property wasn't free, and the cost to turn it into a safe and secure environment is quite costly.  

Are you getting excited?  We are!  We can't wait to get all the construction behind us and throw open the doors of 211 and 209 Main and welcome you inside.