Sarah Graham: The Five Question Interview

Sarah Graham is an educator, yoga teacher, herbalist, beekeeper, and gardening enthusiast. She owns SHAMBA Farm which is an acronym for Sustainable Homestead and Microclimate Based Agriculture. Her kitchen is the creative heart of her home. She sells her handmade herbal medicine, salves, eggs, honey, and fresh herbs at the Elgin Farmers’ Market, her website, and at various pop up markets in Elgin.

Sarah lives on her farm in a straw bale home (which she built herself) with her adorable daughters, some goats, chickens, and working dogs.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I had been looking at houses in Austin, and realized that I wanted more space. On the drive out to Elgin, I thought “this is 10 minutes too far”. But the moment I set foot on my land, I knew I had found my place. I bought it a couple of months later, built a house, and moved out here in August of 2009. I moved here for the small town feel and beautiful views. Elgin’s history is rooted in agriculture, and I wanted to be a part of the sustainable agriculture movement blossoming here. I had a gut feeling that I would find a community, and the one that I’ve found is more beautiful and supportive than I could have ever imagined.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

As a new mom, I was too exhausted to create, but as my daughter got older and she started coloring and painting, I realized how much fun it was to spend time making messes with her. I saw the value in creativity, and allowed myself to spend time creating and experimenting in the kitchen. During my divorce, I found that growing plants and using them in the kitchen for food and bath products gave me much needed creative expression. I’ve always dabbled in various crafts, such as sewing and beading, but the kitchen is my main creative space. It’s the heart of any home, and for me cooking and canning combine my background in science with a love of plants and fresh, flavorful food. Experimenting with new recipes for herbal concoctions keeps things exciting and my creativity fueled. I’m always growing new plants, so I get to try new ways of extracting their flavors and medicinal qualities. It helps me cultivate a deeper relationship with nature and an intimacy with my land, which is my ultimate goal. 

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

1. We are human beings, not human doings. In other words, do less, and be more. Cultivating quiet space helps ideas and inspiration to flow.

2. Mistakes are learning opportunities. How can we learn if we don’t fail? Failure is an essential part of growth.

3. I honor my boundaries by truly considering opportunities before I say “yes” or no”. This allows me to fully commit to my obligations and not overload myself. It helps me avoid over-commitment.

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

I’ve been experimenting with soy candles lately which has been great fun! I’m planning for the new things I will grow in the spring and for my 50 fruit trees arriving this winter. I’ve got a couple of fun ideas to change up my market stand using materials found on my land. I always have more ideas than time! I recently listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast and it was incredibly inspirational. She’s all about cultivating creativity. Also, I am re-watching Game of Thrones (thanks COVID!). I find the fantasy so compelling, as it’s the creation of an entire world and really whisks me away.

5. Cake or Pie?

BOTH! Cake for birthdays, pies for holidays.Pie, because pie is love. And it goes better with vintage country music.

SHAMBA website www.shambatx.com
Instagram @shambafarm


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Murray Kaough: The Five Question Interview

Murray Kaough’s paintings, leatherwork and “Texas Toile” fabric are inspired by nature, particularly West Texas’ Big Bend area. She proclaims it her soul country. She loves to travel and can’t wait until the pandemic ends and it’s safe to travel outside the U.S. She lives with her husband on a few acres south of Elgin with a few dogs, cats, birds and chickens. Her kids are grown now but went to school in Elgin.

1. Why did you move to the Elgin area? 

We moved to the Colorado River bottom, 11 miles south of Elgin, about 30 years ago! Amazing, right? It was truly dark sky then and so much more uninhabited. I remember how hard it used to be to find our road at night, as there were no lights around. In those days you did NOT just zip out for a pizza! I need open space and feel like I can think better if there aren’t too many people crowded around all the time. Of course this does not include dogs, animals, trees, birds….they are welcome in large numbers at all times.

2. What compels you to spend time creating?

Busy hands are happy hands, I always say!  My creative outlets are not only a true source of happiness, but also a necessary component in maintaining my good health and pleasant disposition :). I’m not really good at sitting around and genuinely prefer to be doing something productive. Painting is my first love, leatherwork is my side hustle, and gardening is another form of creative expression that requires a lot of watering and occasionally produces items I can actually eat. I also write and am co-founder of WEAVE (Women Engaged Artfully in Vital Expression), a women’s group started in 2019 to support women’s creative expression and to advance the integration of the divine feminine worldwide.

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

This is really a hard one, as I’m learning new things all the time! Curiosity is the fountain of youth! I guess I would say: 

Persistence and discipline are the keys to success.  I know it sounds dull! Make a space, set regular studio hours, and just keep hammering away at it until you produce results that please you. But try to hammer in a playful, easy-does it sort of way, where you can enjoy the process as much as the end result.

Keep stepping out of your comfort zone to keep it fresh. Cultivate wonder to feed your inspiration! Reach across mediums to try something you don’t usually work in. Maybe take a class, look at magazines, go to a museum, follow other makers on instagram, look at things upside down…PLAY!

Follow your interests. You just never know where you will end up.

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

I’ve really enjoyed making nature spirit charms lately, under my Mode Less Travelled line – painted leather butterflies and feathers, imbued with good juju and meant as blessings in the world. I’m eager to start a new canvas! For some reason, I’ve been obsessed with the scarlet ibis lately, and want to work one into a painting. Also jackrabbits. And the moon…

5. Cake or Pie?

Hmmm. I guess I’m generally more of a savory than sweets person… Maybe pecan pie. But not too gooey in the center, and with toasted pecans. Are you sure you shouldn’t list cookies as a third option? I’m craving cardamom cookies lately.


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Molly Alexander: The Five Question Interview

Molly Alexander and her partner Gary Luedecke opened the doors at The Owl Wine Bar & Home Goods Store in late 2012 and it quickly became a gathering place for Elginites and visitors alike. After such a wonderful response from the community they opened G&M Drygoods just down Main Street. Both shops are mainstays in our community and Elgin’s Main Street. Molly lives in downtowm Elgin with her two cats Moby and Jacques.

1. Why did you move to Elgin? 

I moved from Dallas, TX to Elgin in June, 1990 to become Elgin’s Main Street Manager.  I fell in love with the community immediately and am proud to call it my home.

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

Everyone in town wanted a healthy, vibrant downtown full or retail shops and restaurants.  In 2012 Gary and I had what we thought was a great retail business idea and we believed change needed to start with us so we decided to open The Owl.

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

  • Being outdoors brings me great joy and is part of my mental and physical well-being.  I have learned how to paddle board and adore being on the water! We also bought 10 acres of land near Elgin and I love, love, love walking among the pine and oak trees, listening and watching the birds, coyotes and other wildlife.
  • It’s time to finish our home projects so we can enjoy some downtime. Gary and I have spent the past 8 years building The Owl and G&M DRGYOODS. In our free time we have worked renovating our home in Galveston. It is time to finish our Galveston house so we can enjoy visiting the island and all it has to offer!
  • I miss my closest friends!  With covid-19 I miss hanging with my closest friends, getting hugs and catching up in person.

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

I just finished Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, a great book about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. I am currently watching Man in the High Castle on Prime and I am listening to some of my favorite records – Dina Washington, Cat Stevens and Miles Davis.  When it comes to making – Gary and I are building a downstairs apartment in our Galveston home, building an outdoor shower at our new property and I am working to finish remodeling my building in Elgin.

5. Cake or Pie?

I have celiac disease so either if it is gluten-free!  Give me a great flourless chocolate cake, or a tart lemon or cherry pie! 

The Owl Wine Bar & Home Goods + G&M Dry Goods
@elginowlstore
@gmdrygoods


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