Froberg’s Farm

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The growing seasons here are all strange to get used to, because it is basically growing season year round. In Pennsylvania, we lived near Murphy’s Blueberry Farm, and we enjoyed picking each summer. I missed that, so last year I was in search of places to pick berries. I stumbled upon Froberg’s Farm in Alvin, about 30 minutes south of where we live. I was ONE WEEK LATE for strawberry season, which is from February to the beginning of May! Back in Pennsylvania strawberry season is in June. I should have known the timing would be different!  Well, I just kept it in the back of my head and remembered for this year.

Derek just finished school for the year yesterday, so now we can reclaim our weekends together again. The first thing we had to do was Froberg’s.

It is the end of the season, so there was slim pickings overall, but, with little bit of hunting, and going out to some of the further areas of the patches, we still found plenty of berries to fill our bucket. We picked over three pounds! There were also sunflower patches near the field, and I was excited to see a train go by! The patch is right next to tracks.

Froberg’s is a great place to spend half a day with your kids. We saw a tractor ride pulling kids around and rubber duck races! There is also a large market where you can pick up just about any kind of fruit and vegetable. There was also a bakery inside. This felt like Stony Fork General Store, which we frequented back in Pennsylvania. It feels great to find something so similar. Aside from the strawberries we picked up local honey, dried mango slices and peanut brittle.

Froberg’s is open year round, so even though the strawberries may not be in season, there is always the market, as well as some other seasonal activities such as a fall festival.

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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.

 

 

 

Old Town Spring

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On Thursday Derek and I went to Old Town Spring, which is a little shopping village in the northern suburb of Spring, TX. I had seen commercials on TV about Old Town Spring and it seemed to fulfill some of what I had been missing in Houston. I miss shopping in small mom and pop shops, the onesthat line the Main Streets of all the small towns in the rural county we lived in. Once, I Googled, “country store in Houston” and I got hits for grocery stores and a Cracker Barrel. Not exactly what I had in mind!

We probably went on one of the nastiest days weather wise, but that was okay. It was raining and in the mid 40s, which is super cold for here! But we bundled up and made the best of it. At least we were in and out of the stores, and not out in the rain so much.

There are so many different stores, I think we only saw half of them (partially the weather’s fault.) A lot of them had a mashup of things, but some of them were specific. We saw a shop called “Just For the Birds,” a “Connie’s Bath Shack” too, and of course there was a Texas themed shop, where I couldn’t resist buying a small stuffed longhorn.  A few of the stores had beautiful home decor, and I think Derek and I might be making another trip there once we have our own place again. There were a bunch of little cafes to choose from to eat lunch at. We ate at Ellen’s – the soup was delicious. A bonus was that there were railroad tracks at the edge of the village, great for someone who loves trains (me).

My favorite store was The Little Dutch Girl. Funny story –  a few months ago, I was searching everywhere for stroopwafles, a Dutch dessert that is a thin wafer like waffle, with caramel syrup in the middle. We couldn’t find them anywhere, but I saw that they were at The Little Dutch Girl. That was definitely a reason to go to Old Town Spring. But then, suddenly, I had more stroopwafles then I knew how to deal with. We ended up finding them at two stores, plus my parents sent some over in a care package. So I no longer had a need to buy them at the store, but I was sorely tempted by everything else. I ended up buying two tiny pieces of delft (a pair of clogs and a cat) and I bought spiced windmill cookies, a staple at my Gram’s house while growing up.

I think I would definitely come back again, next time when it is warmer out!

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Aunt Susie’s visit

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Aunt Susie came to visit for three days. It was a short visit, yes, but we crammed a ton of activities into those three days! We both had a lot of fun, and it came at the right time. It felt good to take a short break and forgot about other things currently going on. It was great because, while I took her to a bunch of things that I was familiar with, I also got to see and do some new things myself too.

On the first day I took Aunt Susie to Cavenders, which is a family owned boot and western wear store. She bought a shirt, and I cried over every pair of boots that I can’t afford, haha. Christmas is coming…

Then we went to the Arboretum, and I took her to the meadow trail to see the swamp sunflowers that were still in bloom.

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After the Arboretum, we went to Downtown and I showed her Discovery Green. I was excited to see The Color Condition, which is the latest art installation.

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Day two was the beach. A drive to Galveston is not complete with a stop at Buc-ees! She loved it. She bought a Buc-ee Bever keychain, a shirt and pajama shorts.

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It was great beach weather. A little chilly in the morning, so we had sweatshirts on, but the afternoon was perfect. We basically had the beach to ourselves for the first few hours, but then more people came by lunch time. We found a dead jellyfish on the beach. I had never seen one before.

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We had lunch at a place called Fish Tales, which is right across the street from the pier. The restaurant had a great outdoor patio on the second floor. I got the shrimp po boy sandwich and it was huge! Will probably eat there again.

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We checked out Murdochs, which is an old gift shop that is right over the water. They had a little bit of everything inside. Aunt Susie bought a shirt for Uncle Paul there. They also have their own bar, where you can get drinks and snacks, and a patio for you to enjoy them on. They sure do know how to bring in business!

We walked around the Hotel Galvez for a bit. It is a beautiful hotel, but supposedly haunted. Apparently it used to be an orphan’s asylum, but most of the children died in the 1900 hurricane. Spooky.

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From Hotel Galvez we took the motorized trolley to the Strand for some shopping. The island is currently working on getting the train trolleys up and running for next summer, but have the motorized ones in the mean time. It costs $1 to ride it each way, which I think is a good deal, instead of having to move the car and pay more in a lot.

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Our last day was the Houston Zoo and Hermann Park. Some of the highlights of the zoo were getting to see some of the big cats up close, and Aunt Susie feeding the giraffes. We took the train ride around Hermann park.

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The fun seemed like it ended all too soon, but she will be back, this time with my parents too, in March. She said she had a great time and a good first impression of Houston and Galveston. She said she wants to move to Galveston now… I would be okay with that!

Phoenicia

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I didn’t expect to write about a grocery store, but Phoenicia is so much more than just a grocery store. It is a destination in its own right.

Derek first discovered Phoenicia back in the fall, and he suggested that we check it out together. The first time we were there we only did a quick look through and got drinks to go from the cafe inside, but we both knew we had to come back and thoroughly look around.

So, Phoenicia, located in downtown, is first and foremost a grocery store, but there is only the basics like meats, fruits and vegetables. Don’t come here looking to get everything on your shopping list like toilet paper and cat food. Their website describes themselves as “Houston’s one-stop gourmet, international food experience with more than 10,000 products from more than 50 countries.” It is most definitely an international food experience, but also an international people experience too! I think I must have heard four or five different languages spoken there.

Today we decided to go have lunch there. They have a bakery and cafe inside, as well as multiple deli sections. I decided to go Greek, and I got spanakopita and stuffed grape leaves. I also got a honey and lavender scone to go. Derek got a turkey, bacon and swiss sandwich with a brownie. The meal selection is expansive. It is hard to decide what to want because it all looks so good!

There is a section to eat inside, but there are also tables outside so we ate our food outside. There were tons of people there, most looked like they were with colleagues on lunch break from work.

After we were done with lunch, we decided to peruse the aisles. I was really impressed with all the selection, and happy to see tons of Kinder chocolate and Walker shortbread cookies. (Yum!) I was intrigued by the middle eastern section, and they had a ton of loose leaf teas that I will definitely have to purchase in the future. They have a upstairs section that has some more food, a bunch of kitchen gadgets and cookware, and a huge wine selection.

My recommendation is that if you know someone who is a food connoisseur, you could do some gift shopping for them at Phoenicia!

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Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

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The three-week Houston rodeo is underway. I went last week and ended up being on the grounds for seven hours! And I was never bored; there was always something to do or look at. And I’ve only experienced the grounds so far. The real fun starts this weekend, when I have the first of three concerts/rodeos to attend.

Here are some highlights from my day:

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The shopping was amazing. Thank goodness I didn’t have much money to spend otherwise I could have easily bought myself a whole new wardrobe. I did buy one shirt though, which I plan to wear to the Willie Nelson concert this weekend!

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Lots of animals on display of course. My favorites were the baby chickens and the longhorn!

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This was a part of a neat exhibit called The Tour of Texas. There were sections dedicated to each area of Texas, and you got to learn about their native plants, animals, etc.

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The mascot of Houston Rodeo!

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The carnival area of the Rodeo was huge! There was a kids carnival and one for older people. I definitely wouldn’t go near most of the rides. I did however go on the nice, slow sky ride.

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Some type of herding event for riders. I had no idea what the premise was, but it was still interesting to watch!

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Pig racing is always a highlight!

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I also got to see an animal show. This is a bear cat. I’ve never seen one before. Apparently they smell like popcorn!

It was overall a great day. I’m glad I went on a Wednesday because it was value day because you get in for $5 instead of $10. It was so overrun with school kids though! One would have to have a lot of patience when going through the exhibits. (I usually do not.) But had I gone this week, during Houston School District’s spring break, I’m sure it would be much worse. The amounts of food were ridiculous. It took me forever to decide what I wanted to eat. First I had to sort out the crazy food from the normal food. (Alligator on a stick, anyone?) I ended up getting a bowl of chili and later had a cinnamon bun as a snack. Also, it was so neat seeing just about everyone in cowboy boots. I kept thinking to myself, “These are my people! I belong here!”

Stay tuned for more rodeo and concert pictures!