Meet Raquel and TJ!
When we saw Raquel Chandler’s cute Porch Portraits with her sweet dog Bear, we knew we wanted to get to know her better. The Louisiana native and her husband, TJ, have lived in Knob Hill since 2018. We were thrilled to get Raquel on the phone to get the scoop on everything Easton Park, from how they chose their home to their dream of a golf cart Mardi Gras parade. Read the full story below.
EP: Hi Raquel! Thanks so much for doing this! Tell us about your family.
RC: Right now, it’s me and my husband, TJ, and our dog Bear. Bear is our 13-year old Schnauzer-Lab mix. He’s quite the muppet—he’s the best dog ever. I’ve had him since he was 9 weeks old; he was my pal through all my single days. When I met my husband, they were instantly best friends. Bear often rocks a mohawk, so that’s how everyone knows him in the neighborhood.
EP: How did you and TJ meet?
RC: We met in Austin through mutual friends—TJ was my best friend’s fraternity brother at Louisiana Tech, so they introduced us. I grew up in Bossier City, Louisiana, and TJ’s dad and step-mom lived an hour and a half away. He mostly grew up in Gulf Shores, Alabama, with his mom and step-dad.
EP: What do y’all do for work?
RC: TJ is an environmental scientist for TRC Solutions, and I am a product design recruiter for USAA—the chief design office is out of Austin.
EP: That’s so cool! Where did you live before Easton?
RC: We were renting in a little gated community called Edgewick, about a mile and a half from downtown. They called them condos, but they were really townhomes. I lived there for 7 years, which was the longest I had been anywhere besides my parents’ house! This was our first home to buy, so it was a big deal when we moved to Easton Park.
EP: How did y’all first find Easton Park?
RC: One of our best friends from our Nearly Newlywed group at our church, Austin Stone, was one of the sales agents for Highland Homes, who built in phase 1 of Bryant Park. She knew they were going to build in Easton, so a year or two before they broke ground she told us about it. We were interested, but there was nothing out here in those early days. Then another couple bought a Highland Home in Bryant Park, right about the time Knob Hill was a quarter of the way done, and some of our other best friends signed a contract to move here.
EP: Who was your builder?
RC: We met with Buffington Homes, and we liked the layout and the farmhouse look. When you’re in the neighborhood, in Knob Hill, our house is the farmhouse with big red chairs on the porch. It sticks out. We just love the neighborhood.
EP: Was it hard to choose your floorplan?
RC: We loved the model—it had a huge kitchen layout, and I love to cook. We love to entertain, and it was the perfect entertainment layout. We wanted a one story, because with older parents, we didn’t want them to worry about stairs. We also knew we wanted a 3 bedroom home, although now I wish we had 4 bedrooms, because we are actively waiting to adopt, and we’re losing our office to the baby. I wish we had one extra bedroom!
EP: Oh wow! That’s big news!
RC: We became an active family in April, and we passed our home study. We did a fundraiser for our adoption, and I designed It Takes a Village t-shirts. Of course our close neighbors wear our shirts, but we’ll go for a walk or be driving around in our golf cart, and we’ll see people we don’t even know wearing the t-shirts. This neighborhood is amazing.
EP: That is so sweet! What is your favorite part of the Easton community?
RC: I really think that the people in our neighborhood, specifically in Knob Hill. Especially during COVID, we have rallied to support each other. We’ve had new moms and people who need help getting things fixed around their house. Everyone is trying to be safe, but we support each other and help each other. There are driveway happy hours, and you just get the feeling that your home is your safe haven. When you get home and step outside, you’re watering lawn and the neighbors swing by on golf cart. It’s the best.
EP: Okay, wait, tell me about the golf carts!
RC: There are so many golf carts in Knob Hill! There are probably 8-9 of us, and we drive around and go over to The Union. We’ll pack a cooler and cruise to the Beach Boys over to the pool.
EP: Okay, that’s amazing.
RC: TJ and I have this dream—we’re both from Louisiana—and we want to rally the neighbors to do a golf cart Mardi Gras parade, and we’ll call it the Crewe of Carts. Our vision for it is we have a meet up place, like for normal Mardi Gras—you have a start off place where everyone stages and hangs out, and you grill out and maybe partake in some drinks. Then you do the parade and throw beads, and then everyone meets up afterward for a big party. There’s so many of us who would be up for it! Next year it could be even better; we could socially distance and still have fun.
EP: I love it! We have to tell Collette! Have y’all been using The Union?
RC: It’s awesome. We haven’t taken advantage of gym or renting out the rooms, but we love the pool. It’s a fun place to drive your golf cart to.
EP: Have y’all been to events like Parkapalooza and Easton Made?
RC: Yes, we’ve gone a lot, and they are really well done events. Parkapalooza was super fun for the last couple of years. I think what we’ve really enjoyed is Movies in the Park, with the food trucks. Some of our neighbors in Knob Hill have been doing garage concerts, where they’ll bring in real bands and they’ll have concerts in garage. Everyone is welcome, and they can set up their blankets across from house, and it’s awesome. The official Easton events are great, but as neighbors we’re trying to make the best of the times.
EP: I love that! What would you say to someone thinking of moving to Easton?
RC: I would say, if you are looking for a place that feels like Austin and feels like home, Easton is literally the best of both words. But also be patient—although it looks like we’re out there, it’s coming, and they need to believe in all of that, too. Easton has been an amazing place for us because we really love our home, and we love our neighbors. It’s so Austin.
EP: Anything else we should add? What do y’all like to do for fun?
RC: We like to go hiking and camping, and we like music. My husband is into craft beer, so living within 5 miles of craft breweries is a plus for us. Oh, and I write a food blog, The Tasteful Texan, on Instagram, and Austin is one of the best places for that!