Polish Festival

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Ethnic festivals seem to be a running theme for me and Derek. First it was the Greek Festival, then the Japan Festival and now the Polish Festival.

We both enjoy the little glimpses into different cultures, and of course, the food is always excellent.

I will be honest up front and say that I was a little disappointed with the festival, but overall we had a nice time. The festival was at Our Lady of Częstochowa Parish. The church area was decorated nicely with lots of paper flowers.

There were some vendors, but not a lot. There was much more at the Greek and Japan festivals. We enjoyed looking at the Polish pottery collections. When we got married one of our friends gave us a small set of Polish pottery – two mugs and two small plates – and we still have them and use them regularly. There also seemed to be a lot of Amber jewelry. I was not aware that it was a popular Polish jewelry. I also enjoyed perusing through some pierogi cookbooks.

Speaking of that, of course I had pierogi for dinner. It was delicious! Derek had polish sausage. Derek also tried a Polish beer, and we had dessert. Derek had a cheesecake and I had a lemon bar.

There was also a silent auction inside that we checked out. But aside from that, we had seen everything and were only there for about a half hour! I had wanted to wait for the Polish dance group Wawel, but they weren’t going to perform for another hour.

There was a band called Ziggy that was playing on stage, but they were playing popular hits! They were good, but it was kind of weird to hear Michael Jackson at a Polish Festival…

In order to waste some time we decided to wander across the street to the Polish food store, which ended up being interesting. We came away with some delicious Polish candy, and a new favorite called Buttersby, a brand of fudge. We bought the vanilla flavor. So good!

I should mention that we went to the Polish Festival on opening night, Friday night, but it went on all weekend too. So we got in for free, which was a bonus. However, when Wawel came out to dance, I was upset because they weren’t in their traditional costumes! The announcer said since it was opening night, they were only giving a preview performance. I wish I had known that in advance otherwise we would have waited and gone on Saturday. Anyway, even though they were in shorts and t-shirts, they still did two traditional dances and they were fun to watch.

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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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Japan Festival

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A few weeks ago the 25th annual Japan Festival was held in Hermann Park. This was an event that I had wanted to attend last year, but could not due to my work schedule. Now that I work more normal hours, (my weekend is now Friday-Saturday,) this year has been spent attending things that I missed last year.

The day started out cold and rainy, much like the Tall Ship festival in Galveston the week before, but eventually the sun came out and it warmed up. Even with the dreary weather in the morning, there were tons of people there. It seems to be a very popular event, especially with kids dressing up like their favorite characters.

There were a ton of food vendors (we had teriyaki kabobs – delicious!) and merchandise vendors. I bought a bunch of cat themed items, including a maneki-neko, which is a popular white cat figurine with a raised paw that symbolizes good luck. There were also a bunch of games for kids. We also enjoyed looking at displays of bonsai trees. 

The highlight were all of the different stage performances. I saw a couple of dance performances, two singers, a J-Fashion Show, martial arts, and a shrine ceremony.

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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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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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Winter Storm Inga

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Winter Storm Inga barreled through Texas, and much of the south, a few days ago. It could have very well been rain, but it was timed (not so) perfectly with an arctic front coming through the area. The day started off above freezing, but the temperatures quickly dropped, and with it came the most dangerous form of precipitation – ice.

Schools started announcing closures on Monday evening, including the University of Houston. This was kind of interesting, because this is twice now that school has closed at the beginning of a semester, before for Hurricane Harvey.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning, I looked outside and saw that there was already a coating of ice everywhere. I emailed my boss, and he said to work from home. Thank goodness I was in a position to do that.

There is usually always a bit of uncertainty when it comes to a weather forecast, but Inga lived up to the hype. Roads quickly became ice skating rinks, and that was mixed with periods of snow too.

The Houston Chronicle reported that in a two day period, Houston police responded to nearly 1,000 accidents. Also, weather.com noted that, because of Inga’s contribution to snow in the south, all lower 48 states now have snow cover. Pretty cool!

Thankfully I was off on Wednesday to begin with, and UH closed down for Wednesday too, because the day started off so cold that the ice did not begin to melt until noon. In the middle of the night, Houston was 19 degrees. The last time the temperature was in the teens was 1996!

Also, according to local news channel abc13.com, “It has snowed three times in the winter of 2017-2018, marking the second time in Houston it has snowed three times in one winter. In the winter of 1973, it snowed three times.” (I would personally say, at least for our area, it only snowed twice. The other time was more like a short period of sleet.)

In a few days, it will be 68 degrees. I guess the saying does ring true in some places. If you don’t like the weather, just wait a day!

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