Talena Rasmussen: The Five Question Interview

Talena Rasmussen is the mastermind and creative force behind sowing and cultivating a handful of most popular and successful vintage retail stores in Austin. She is the owner of the soon to be one -year-old Newbo Vintage on Main Street in historic downtown Elgin.

1. Why did you move to Central Texas? 

I moved to Central Texas, New Braunfels to be specific, from Kansas when I was 15 to live with my dad in an attempt to experience a better home life. Lesson learned- you can’t run away from your problems.

2. What compelled you to start a business in Elgin?

I opened Newbo in Elgin because the only local competition (other than online) is The Lion’s Club thrift store, Wal-Mart and Tractor Supply; downtown Elgin is super cute; I live 25 minutes from the shop (which is a big deal after commuting to Austin every day from Webberville for the last 10 years); and Austin is so expensive you cannot take risks with the products you choose to sell, you have to cater to the majority and that just isn’t fulfilling.  I prefer having a store that can afford to be hyper inclusive and cater to all styles, sizes, preferences etc.  I don’t tell people how they should want to dress; I provide enough options so you can try things and figure out what feels right to you.

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

1. Never be a part of a 50/50 partnership. Someone has to hold the majority especially if only two people are involved.

2. I don’t hate all bacon; uncured bacon is delicious. 

3. Country birds are superior to city birds.

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

I am currently reading 1960’s/70’s sci-fi short stories in preparation for a personal project.

5. Cake or Pie?

Cake only because I feel like I have to choose but really it’s a tie. I love them both.

Follow Newbo on Instagram @newboelgintx

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Kate Mahoney-McGuire: The Five Question Interview

Kate Mahoney-McGuire is the owner of katefeelscozy, where she creates handmade lino block art printed on cards and prints as well as knitted wear like hats, scarves and mittens. Kate first began ‘making’ when she was little and her mom showed her the wonderful world of crafting and handmade items; since then she has dabbled in jewelry, sewing, graphic design, layout, publishing and more.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I owe it all to a rainy day of driving and listening to The Chicks.

It was March of 2020, the pandemic had just hit and I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with 2 cats and my senior dog, definitely over the animal limit of 2 that my apartment complex allowed. I was now having to teach yearbook, graphic design and magazine publishing from my apartment. It was terrible. My neighbors were so loud during the day and my apartment faced the parking lot that had cars blasting music. I hated where I was living and hated being in a small cramped space. I longed for ‘wide open spaces’ and was talking to my teacher friend who had bought a house a couple years ago. She recommended I buy myself my own house. At first I thought that was wild, how can I, a single, parent-less, very-much-in-student-loan-debt, credit-card debt, car-loan debt buy a house? Looking back, it was wild to even consider it at the time but it’s exactly what I needed. So…. I took a leap of faith and drove out to various small towns around Austin because they reminded me of where I grew up, out in the cornfields of Union, Iowa. One day I packed up my dog in the backseat, threw on The Chicks and drove. I ended up driving in and out of the streets of Elgin, loving how it made me feel of home. I immediately called up my friends’ realtor and told him I wanted a house for me, all my animals and I wanted space. I bought a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house in Elgin on my teachers’ salary and went to making this home MY home. I repainted every wall and ceiling, painted a mural, tilled and made a rock garden, made a fire pit, built a couple of planter boxes, even built my own kitchen island. I felt like superwoman in 2020. Taking a bad situation that we all had to live through and making it my own. 

Since moving here I paid off my car and all my credit cards, found my future husband in late 2020 and we got married in October of 2022. We now live together in this home with 4 animals, my late dog, Hank, passed away but we have three cats, Rory, 7 yrs old, Tiny, 5 yrs old, Whiskey (our 2022 addition), 10 months old, and our new dog, Boo, 10 months old. We have expanded the garden to include pumpkins, grapes, and blackberries but mostly grow basil and green beans. We get our eggs from a local farmer down the road and my favorite alcohol is mead so I’m very happy we have a meadery here. I love calling Elgin home. 

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

I began making/crafting since I can remember. My mom was a big advocate of play so I made costumes out of her old clothes and jewelry, then she enrolled me into a YWCA knitting class in Iowa where I learned how to knit from a bunch of grandmas around age 6. Around that time I was making jewelry. After jewelry, my mom taught me to sew and bought me my first sewing machine around 10 yrs old. I sewed a lot of my own clothes and pillow cases. All throughout my life I could draw and loved working with paper. I first started selling knitted blankets, hats and scarves in 2018. Then in 2022, I began experimenting with lino block carving. I carved nature scenes: mushrooms, flora, cats, even spooky things. When I started printing, it was first on paper, then cards, then fabric like tea towels and pencil cases. I started vending after I quit teaching in May 2022 and loved it. Meeting people at markets, making new designs and challenging myself was wonderful. 

My art is personal to me and I make it because I love it and if others enjoy it too, that’s wonderful. Right now, I carve and ink lino on various mediums, knit hats and scarves during the winter. I’m currently working on a collab with another local artist who sews beautiful wearable pieces like fanny packs, bucket hats, and water bottle holders. I’ll be printing on the fabric and she’ll use the fabric to make these pieces. Our collection will be available in May. 

3. Tell me three things you’ve learned in the past five years.

Stop and throw the shoe. Recently, I finished a long day of work and was completely in my head about the whole day, what went wrong, what I did poorly, etc. Boo, our dog kept pawing at the back door to go outside. I opened it, went outside with him and continued ranting about the day to Brad. Sure, ranting can be great but it doesn’t always make you feel any better. Boo was running around the backyard, trying to pick up this shoe with his mouth but he wasn’t quite able to. I stopped my rant and looked Boo in the face. His big black eyes were excited, his tongue was out and he was smiling. I picked up his shoe and threw it. And then I did it again, and again. I began to run alongside my dog. A smile grew on my face. After only 5 minutes I was a completely different person. I remembered what was important, not my job, not whether the day was bad or if someone thought poorly of me, what is important is loving my animals, giving love to my partner, and giving my all to the life I am choosing to live. So tonight, I’ll be picking up and throwing the shoe to remember what’s important.

Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch. This comes from my late mom, but it’s a motto I live by everyday. I can get frustrated if not everything is done, cleaned, sent out etc right now. I try to remind myself that inch by inch, everything will get done. You want to meet a goal, take it day by day. Want to write a novel, take it page by page. 

Don’t take this life for granted. I have seen too many people leave this world in my 28 years and I see what they did well and what they could have done differently. But, because I have seen death so vividly, I want to live a long life and appreciate every moment I have in it with the people I love, the animals I care for. 

4. What are you currently making, reading, watching, or listening to?

Currently making: I’ve recently had my sewing machine looked at and got new pieces for it so I can sew aprons. 

Currently Reading:

This One Wild and Precious Life by Sarah Wilson, a book my husband and I found in San Francisco a couple of years ago and I’m just now getting to. It can be a hard read at times as it reminds us of the world around us and our part in it. 

South to America by Imani Perry recounts life in the South. I am just starting this but it’s honest, raw and vibrant.

Currently Watching:

I just finished this but The Parent Test on Hulu was amazing. They make it out to have some competition aspect but it is much more than that, all the parents watch their parenting styles on display and have in-depth conversations about hard topics like the line between politeness and fearfulness with strangers that they teach their kids. How much do we push them to be ‘successful’ versus the opposite of not caring about their future. It led to conversations with my husband about what we want to value most when parenting. We both realize we’ll make mistakes but what we want our children’s take-away from their childhood to be was a common conversation after each episode.

Poker Face on Peacock, I love this show. Episode 3 features Texas stereotypes which is funny but the whole series is done so well. I thought it was going to be ‘scary’ but it’s not, it’s comical and intelligent. 

5. Cake or Pie?

Pie. I enjoy the ooey-gooey fruitiness of pies rather than cake. 

Instagram: @katefeelscozy
Etsy: katefeelscozy

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Sing Like Nobody’s Listening

Jeannie C. Riley

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dusting off the ukulele I asked Santa for three years ago and learning to play it. Three years ago I attended an Austin Ukulele Society meeting and it was so much fun. It was Valentine’s Day so everyone learned “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. I can’t remember the last time I felt so completely lost in what was going on and enjoying every moment, without a hint of self-consciousness.

My lack of skill and the fact that my ukulele was not properly tuned (or at all) were of no bother to the two kind souls who sat on either side of me. The man on my left suggested I could always just strum in on the first beat if the fingering was too hard for me. I felt like a 3 year-old who’d been handed a toy steering wheel so I felt I was driving too. Whatever, I felt part of, and I guess that was the point. He must be a kindergarten teacher. 

So there I was, singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love” like nobody was listening with 139 strangers. It was amazing.

Also, the woman on my right with the blue ukulele and a rose tucked behind her ear sang like an angel.

Austin Ukulele Society

Holy guacamole this podcast is pure gold. I sure do hope there is a second season on the horizon. Host Tyler Mahan Coe’s stories about the truth behind some of country music’s tallest tales make each episode a wild ride.

You may ask yourself, “Why are there three entire episodes about “The Harper Valley PTA”? I can tell you now that it’s not the story you thought you’d hear. Not even close.

I come by my affinity for 1970’s country when my family ran called the Golden Spike Inn, a kinda sorta truck stop in Byers, Colorado in the mid seventies. I’d spend the weekend pumping stolen quarters from the cash register into the jukebox to hear Charlie Pride, Dolly Parton, and The Kendalls until it was time to head back to our real life. Stop what you’re doing now and listen to this gem. Heaven’s Just a Sin Away

Oh, be sure to listen to these in order. After the first episode, you’ll see Ernest Tubb in another light, and also be back for more.

I should mention these stories are often violent and of an adult nature so probably not appropriate for a family road trip, unless your family is like my family. In that case, roll down the windows and enjoy.

Cocaine & Rhinestones