Portraits in the bluebonnets

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Last year I took photos of the bluebonnets, the Texas state flower, but this year I also wanted photos of myself in the bluebonnets, which seems to be a Texas tradition for just about anyone.

Here is an humorous essay I wrote for the Houston Chronicle about the experience, and see some of the photos below:

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/bluebonnets-photography-springtime-texas-12788419.php

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Waco, Texas

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When my parents and my Aunt were visiting, we took a day trip to Waco. The trip was mostly for my mom, who loves Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame. I have seen a few episodes myself too, and I can understand where the hype comes from.

We had good timing, because their new restaurant, Magnolia Table, just opened up the week before. We left at the crack of dawn to get there at 8 a.m. We had about a 15 minute wait for a table, which was not bad at all. The food was great. We shared lemon lavender doughnuts as an appetizer. I got the farm breakfast, and the bacon and the biscuit that were included were great.

Then it was off to the Silos. Even though it had only opened at 9 a.m. and we got there just shortly after that, it was already packed. There was a line to get into the store, and a line to get into the bakery. The line to the store did not take long. As groups left they let more people in for crowd control.

Inside the store I bought a mug and a t-shirt. (Kid’s size for the win, saved two dollars.) My mom and dad got the mug, two kitchen towels, and a glass vase/jar with two springs of cotton and a magnolia.

It was a nice store, but not really any of my style per se. Most of it was out of my price range. I just wanted the items for the novelty of it. From what I saw, it looked like the mugs and the towels were the most popular items. You would really have to go with a lot of money in your pockets if you wanted some bigger items.

Magnolia at the Silos as a whole was nice. There were lots of photo opportunities and a lot to look at, including a whole lawn for people to hang out and play games on. There were food trucks that opened around lunch time. If you wanted, you could make a day out of it.

After the Silos, we explored downtown a bit. Our first stop was the suspension bridge, built in 1870, for the cattle drives to cross the Brazos River. Then we checked out this huge shopping boutique, called Spice Village. We would have probably spent more time there if we had the time, plus we were already overwhelmed a bit by the morning’s shopping.

Then we checked out Common Grounds, a coffee shop near Baylor University. The owners of the shop were featured in a season one episode of Fixer Upper. Then we walked around Baylor University, which is a really pretty campus. The highlight was checking out a collection of stained glass windows inside the Browning Armstrong library.

Then it was back to the Silos to get in line for the bakery. My mom and dad ended up waiting almost an hour and a half for cupcakes. They give you order forms to fill out while in line to speed up the process a bit. I did not handle the wait well, but this is because I was just starting to get a cold and I was pretty miserable all day! I probably would have been a bit more tolerable of it all had I been able to breathe. My parents said that they talked to someone who said that one random day in May he was able able to walk right in because there were no lines. I wish I could have judged that better myself. We did go on a Monday, but a lot of schools were on spring break, so that may have been an issue. I ordered a lemon lavender cupcake for myself. They were reasonably priced. I THINK it tasted good, but my taste buds were gone with the cold, so I can’t know for sure!

It was a good day over all, and it was neat to see the hub bub surrounding Chip and Joanna. I enjoyed the opportunity to get to see a new area of Texas.

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Family visits Texas

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My family (my parents and my Aunt) were here for a week. My dad had moved us to Houston, and my Aunt visited last October for a long weekend, so they already knew what to expect somewhat, but this was my mom’s first time to the Lone Star State.

We had a full itinerary with multiple things to do every day. I did NOT bring my camera, which was refreshing, since I had already done everything before, and did not need photos of the same things. So, this post will be photo free, and more of a review of what we did. Many of the activities that we did are featured in previous blog posts.

The first thing that we did that ended up being a hit with everyone was dinner at the Gorgeous Gael, an Irish Pub in Rice Village. We ended up doing this the last night too.

We went to Old Town Spring, where mom and dad loved The Little Dutch Girl shop and we also went to Hermann Park and rode the train.

Thursday was a full day at the Rodeo. That was the one thing everyone was looking forward to the most. The highlight was seeing sixteen piglets that were born just 12 hours before! Everyone was amazed at the size of everything. My Aunt expressed concern when we entered the grounds at 10:30 a.m. and the rodeo/concert wasn’t until 6:45 p.m., but we kept busy all day. None of my family had ever seen anything like a rodeo. Luke Bryan was the performer, and he was excellent. (Stay tuned for a separate post on the rodeo.)

On Friday we checked out the University of Houston, with Derek as the tour guide. Everyone was really impressed with the student union center, which is about 10 times the size as the one in Mansfield University. Then we headed to the zoo. The highlights, at least for me, are always the big cats. Mom was excited to see Shasta, the UH cougar mascot. Both times we visited the cougar enclosure, she was sleeping. All cats are the same, right?

On Saturday we walked around downtown. We checked out Discovery Green, and wandered the streets for mom and dad to get a feel of the city. They were shocked that there was hardly anyone around compared to New York City. We went to Allen’s Landing, the birth place of Houston, and caught the end of the Buffalo Bayou Regatta, (canoe and kayak race) so a free party was included. We also took them to the pop up location of Niko Nikos in Market Square Park, and introduced them to some Greek food. It was funny when my dad made me order, because he could not pronounce anything.

Sunday was a day in Galveston. We stopped at the Ashton Villa, a house where General Gordon Granger announced the end of the Civil War to the people of Texas on June 19, 1865. We also went to the Moody Aquarium, at my mom’s request, because she loves penguins. We caught the penguin feeding in the morning, which was cool to see. To be honest though, it was a small aquarium, so I do not think the money was worth it. At any rate though, I was glad to get to do something new. We also wandered the beach, drove around the historic east end district to ogle at all of the large houses, and shopped on the Strand.

Monday was a day trip to Waco. I will post about that separately. We went to Magonlia at the Silos for my mom, who is a Fixer Upper fan. We also went sightseeing here and there in downtown Waco.

Tuesday we stayed close to home, because we were all so exhausted from the day before. We went to La Madeline’s for breakfast and then we headed to the Galleria for some shopping. My mom and dad got a kick out of a revolving sushi bar in the food court! We dropped off my Aunt at the airport in the afternoon.

Wednesday was my parent’s last day. We hiked around the Arboretum and then we went back to downtown to check out the underground tunnels since they were closed when we went before on the weekend. We went right during lunch break rush, and my parents were amazed. We also stopped back at Rice Village, and walked around a couple of shops.

All in all it was a good trip, and I think my family had a good first impression of Houston, and the state of Texas. It might be a few years until they visit again, but I am sure I can easily come up with a whole new itinerary since there is never a shortage of things to do.

 

 

 

Rodeo Parade

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Recently my schedule changed at work. Originally my weekend was a Wednesday-Thursday, which had its pros, but mostly cons. I hating missing out on weekend events, and there are a lot of them in a city! But, at the beginning of the year, my generous boss said that it wasn’t really fair that I had to work weekends, so my days off are now Friday-Saturday.

The first big event that came up since the schedule switch was the Rodeo parade, which is probably one of the events that I was the most disappointed about missing last year.

The rodeo parade features all of the trail riders, who had been on the “trail” for the week prior. The trail rides started as a way to honor the cattle rancher legacy, and to drum up publicity for the rodeo. I wrote an article about it, which you can read here: https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bellaire/news/article/Houston-Livestock-Show-Rodeo-trail-rides-raise-12627384.php#photo-7567488.

The parade was in downtown, on a Saturday morning. It was a LARGE parade. To be honest, after two hours, and the wagons and horses kept on coming, we left. Derek had to get home to work on homework.

It ended up being a much larger parade than I anticipated. The trail riders were the main focus I think, but there were also other groups in the parade, floats and school bands.

I absolutely love rodeo time in Houston. It makes me feel proud to be a Texan, even though I am just a transplant. Plus, it’s an excellent excuse to wear cowboy boots!

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