Tag Archives: Austin Texas

Spring Outdoor Gardening With OXO

I haven’t posted since March? Well, we’re not dead – we just moved!

The Complete Package pulled the trigger on retirement and the lure to be close to our grandkids was just too strong for me, so we packed up our stuff and we moved to Beverly. Hills, that is. Okay, not Beverly Hills exactly, but we did move to the hills west of Austin. Hello, Hill Country!

Two weeks after we moved into our new home, we were hit with a massive hail storm that blew out three picture windows, totaled TCP’s truck, dented the guttering, destroyed our roof and beat our landscaping to a pulp. (Stupid hail.) Not the welcome we expected, but it didn’t dampen our love for the new place. It just meant we had more work to do. And we still absolutely love it.

While we wait for contractors to fix the big stuff, we started on the yard with a little help from OXO. Their Spring Gardening campaign kicked off just as we were preparing to redo the flower beds. Perfect timing! The box of tools they sent were exactly what we needed.

OXO Spring Outdoor Gardening Tools

I’ve made no bones about the fact that I love OXO products. Their commitment to smart design at a great price continually knocks me out. They don’t just design comfortable handles, for example. They add gel pads to the grips to prevent blisters. Ergonomic and comfortable for the win!

OXO Transplanting Trowel - Gel Pad Comfort

I decided to start with the hand plow and tackle replacing the salvia that got beat literally to death. Hail hath no fury? Try telling that to the salvia.

OXO Plow To the Rescue

Because of the pointed tip, I could literally plow through the rock to the soil beneath. This is a serious hand tool. Besides digging rocks, I also used it to re-trough the edge of the bed where approximately two gallons of tiny gravel from our asphalt shingles washed off the roof. Apparently, when golf ball size hail beats your roof badly enough, all that gravel will indeed come off and end up in your yard, which is totally bizarre. But fear not! The hand plow is your friend.

OXO Pointed Plow Blade

Next, we tackled trimming the broken branches from our oak trees and bushes. (Stupid hail.) I don’t have any idea what this bush is, but I like it. Could it be a blueberry bush? Only time will tell. If you recognize it, feel free to shout it out.

OXO Bypass Pruners

The bypass pruners made quick work of those branches and also helped me clean up our poor agave. He did not fare so well with the hail. Poor guy had holes blown all the way through his fronds.

Our Poor Hail-Damaged Agave

Once he was spruced up, I used the hand rake to create a zen pattern in the sand. You know… to help calm him and restore order. Quick question: Do you talk to your plants? I’m asking for a friend.

New House - Agave & Rock Bed

And the hand rake I mentioned? Wait until you get a load of it. Man, I love this thing. It’s the Edward Scissorhands of hand tools.

OXO Hand Rake - Fully Expanded

We used it to help spread new mulch because the storm washed all of our previous mulch into the adjacent greenbelt. (Stupid hail.) What I loved about this rake is that it’s expandable. Did you hear that? I said expandable!

OXO Expandable Hand Rake Collage

You can’t help but play with this thing, but the truth is it’s so functional and easy to use. TCP dumped piles of mulch, and I played with the new hand rake. I mean I ‘worked hard to improve the beds’. (Sometimes I wish he didn’t read my blog.) It made getting into tight nooks and crannies super easy.

OXO Hand Rake - Working Those Corners

Because you can release the lock and adjust the rake width in or out, you can put that mulch into any corner instead of accidentally flinging it out into the grass. That’s a big bonus for a klutz like me.

Now for my personal favorite – the Pour & Store Outdoor Watering Can. I’m telling everyone about this puppy. It’s pure dynamite. The spout actually swivels so you can fill and store with ease. What?!? You heard right!

OXO Pour & Store Watering Can - Easy Fill

And it holds 2+ gallons of water! You’d think that would be heavy and awkward to carry, but it’s really not. The can is so well balanced, you can grab it and go. And you don’t have to constantly peek into the can to see if it’s full yet, because the handle is translucent and you can see the water as it fills. See what I mean? The designers at OXO are so smart! Why did no one think of this before? Why didn’t I think of it before? I coulda’ been RICH, I TELL YOU!

OXO Pour & Store Watering Can - Easy View Fill Level

Other features that rock – the pivoting spout that allows you to fold and store easily and the removable spout head that goes from rain function to full stream with a twist. You’d better believe I am watering ALL the things now.

OXO Pour & Store Watering Can - Thoughtful Design

Once you’re done, give it a quick wipe, twist the spout back around and pop it under a kitchen cabinet. Pure genius.

OXO Pour & Store Watering Can - Easy Storage

We had so much fun playing with our new toys, we got a wild hair and planted a herb container for the front entry. In case you’re wondering, I’m already planning a Margherita pizza around that basil. ‘Hey, Basil…looking good! What, these? Oh, they’re just bypass pruners. No big whoop.’

New House - Herb Container Garden

It felt good to stand in the driveway and look over our work. The beds look good again. The plants are pruned, watered and feeling loved again. The oaks are still bruised and holding a grudge, but 2 out of 3 landscapers agree that they’ll probably recover and grow to be big and strong despite the trauma they endured.

Yes, we are still waiting for guttering and the roof to be replaced, but we really can’t complain. It could have been worse, that’s what insurance is for, and no one got hurt. For that, we are truly thankful.

New House - Front Beds & Porch

Now if OXO could just design a shingle remover and a guttering installer tool, we’d be set. Go ahead, guys. I know you can do it, and I’m willing to wait.
Up Next:
An update on the inside of our new house, including photos from that storm. (Stupid hail.)

NOTE: As a member of the OXO Blogger Outreach Program, I am occasionally given the opportunity to test OXO products, which I receive at no cost to me. I do not receive any other compensation and all opinions are my own. If you are a blogger and would like more information on the OXO Blogger Outreach Program, CLICK HERE.

Advertisements

15 Comments

Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Family Stuff, Things I Love

The Cathedral of Junk – Austin, TX

We recently spent a weekend in Austin with our grandkids and during that weekend The Complete Package took us out for street food and a sight-seeing adventure at the Cathedral of Junk. Never heard of it? Neither had I, and neither had My Baby who lives in Austin and attended college there {hook ’em}. How TCP knew is beyond us, but he did and we’re glad he did. The Cathedral of Junk is hard to describe, wonderous to behold, and one of a kind. Here’s a peek.

Cathedral of Junk - Front of House

From the street, it’s a bright and eclectic house with lots of color and character.

Cathedral of Junk - Front Porch Collage

But the main attraction is the back yard. It’s a tower of…. well, uh…. junk! Lots and lots and oodles of junk. Junk of all makes & models, shapes & sizes.

Cathedral of Junk - Front View of Tower

There’s metal junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Back Side

And nostalgic junk.

Cathedral of Junk - My Baby & the Trolls

And yellow rubbery junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Rubber Duckies

There is junk with a purpose, like this drum with the story of the Cathedral.

Cathedral of Junk - Story on Drum

And junk that inspires.

Cathedral of Junk - Coldplay Quote

I love me some Coldplay. I also love things that make me laugh.

Cathedral of Junk - Billy Bass & Train

Yes, that is a Billy Bass. He was mounted just high enough to prevent us from pressing the button to see if he would sing. There’s just plain ol’ junky junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Sample Junk

And Austin-themed junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Austin Mirror

The main attraction for some is the Throne of Junk.

Cathedral of Junk - Empty Throne

So kitschy and fabulous, some couples come here to have their engagement photos taken. Click here for a sample. We didn’t see any engaged couples posing when we were there, but we did meet a family who was taking graduation photos of their daughter at fun & funky landmarks all over Austin. What a great idea! This cute little group was willing to pose for a few snaps.

Cathedral of Junk - My Baby, Jonah & Lilly

Yep – that’s My Baby with Jonah Bear and Lilly Bug. My little munchkins.

Cathedral of Junk - Lilly & Jonah

These two cutie-patooties make everything more fun & fabulous. And surprisingly, that’s what the Cathedral of Junk is – fun & fabulous.

Cathedral of Junk - A Peek Inside

At first glance, it may inspire some to update their tetanus booster, but don’t let that stop you. The Cathedral of Junk is a monument to inspiration and creativity. It inspires others to visit daily, donate items or create masterpieces of their own. Jonah left dreaming of his next creation.

If you decide to visit, I hope you’ll stop to drop a donation in the box near the gate. It takes a lot of wire, mortar and cement to hold this cathedral together. If you’re curious about what it takes to maintain, Vince (the artist & homeowner) is always standing by to answer questions. He’s a really, really nice guy and proof that one man’s trash truly is another’s treasure.

Cathedral of Junk - Donation Box

If you want to know more about Vince Hannemann and his Cathedral of Junk, this article in The Daily Texan is a great place to start. Keep Austin Weird, y’all!

11 Comments

Filed under Family Stuff, Travel Tales

Republic of Texas Bike Rally (ROT) Austin 2012

The suns sets over the Texas state capitol during ROT 2012


If you read my blog, you’ve occasionally heard me reference The Complete Package (my beloved husband) and his girlfriend (his beloved motorcycle). Each year, TCP takes his girlfriend… er, motorcycle… to Austin to participate in the Republic of Texas (ROT Rally for short) Bike Rally. And every year, I pack my Jeep full of his gear, my stuff and our Boston Terrier and fulfill my destiny as the driver of the support vehicle. Lest you think I’d rather be riding on the back of said motorcycle, think again. But that’s a story for another day.

Each year, approximately 50,000 motorcycle riders and 200,000 participants join in the fun at the largest motorcycle rally in the state of Texas. One of our favorite events of the weekend is the bike parade from the Austin fairgrounds northeast of town where the rally takes place to downtown Austin in front of the state capitol. It is really something.

With the parade route stretching about 11 miles long, bikers riding 2-across will stretch the entire length of the route for more than an hour. To give you an idea of how many riders take part, when the first riders pass the state capitol and turn onto Congress Avenue, there are still riders parked at the fairgrounds waiting for their turn to leave. That’s a solid line of riders stretching out for more than 11 miles riding across Austin, revving engines, honking horns, flashing lights and high-fiving onlookers as they pass. Even if you’re not a motorcycle enthusiast, it’s an impressive spectacle.

Here are a few photos from this year’s ROT Rally parade into downtown Austin.

Here they come! Escorts lead the first riders down Congress Avenue.

Lilly Bug, our granddaughter, takes in the parade from atop mommy’s shoulders.

Bikes of all shapes, sizes & colors parade past.

Some are stretched out choppers…

Some have stretched out riders…

Some get a big ‘thumbs up’ from event staff when they pass.

Some bikers share their ride with pink-haired cuties…

And some ride solo while rocking a spiked yellow helmet for color.

Some like to hide their identities like these mysterious luchadores.

Some represent the ‘older’ crowd on an ultimate trike…

While others represent the younger crowd like this green Ninja hottie.

Some riders are too cool for school…

While others are too fabulously outlandish for words.

As downtown fills with bikes, the first riders into downtown fill Congress Avenue starting at the state capitol and parking their way down to the river.

When a traffic jam occurs, some riders are friendly enough to stop and chat with our grandkids and pose for pictures.

Eventually, Congress Avenue becomes a giant parking lot filled with thousands of bikes and people begin to mingle and take it all in.

I love that the downtown parade is a family-friendly event. People of all ages, races, backgrounds and tastes come out to see this once-a-year event. Rally organizers throw a giant party downtown each year. There really is something for everyone – from bikes to live music to stunning architecture.

When all else fails, you can always break out the light sabers and battle to the death, as My Baby learned at the hands of Jonah Bear. Lilly joined in, too.

Every year, friendly riders show off their bikes to anyone who asks. Some will even let the kids sit on them and pose for photos. Jonah Bear loves that part. I think he likes dreaming of the day when he’ll be big enough to ride a bike into downtown Austin with his Papi. And to that, I say “let the boy dream!”

28 Comments

Filed under Family Stuff, Travel Tales

“You’re the BEST PAPI EVER!”

This summer, The Complete Package participated in the Republic of Texas motorcycle rally in Austin, Texas. One of the best events during the rally is a motorcycle parade that runs from the fairgrounds to Congress Avenue in downtown Austin. For this event, Congress Avenue from the state capital building to the river is closed. Motorcycles leave the fairground in the early evening and create an 11 mile-long motorcycle parade into downtown, past the capital, and onto Congress Avenue. That’s 11 solid miles of motorcycles, riding 2 across, involving thousands of bikes. It’s an incredible sight to behold.

This year, My Baby and I took the kids to Congress Avenue to see the bikes and watch their Papi ride in. We cheered, we bought big sparkly light-up wands for the kids, and we waved at all the riders. As the bikes filled Congress Avenue, the riders parked, got off their bikes and walked around. Bikers swapped stories, families visited friends, and grown-ups and kids alike walked around looking at motorcycles, ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over their favorites. This year, Jonah’s favorite bike involved custom LED lights that flashed and changed colors. He thought it was the coolest bike, and the gentleman that owned it was kind enough to let him sit on it and have his picture taken. He loved that.

Fast forward to this August when TCP decided to install LED lights on his new motorcycle. Lights that flash and change colors and do all kinds of cool things. So when Jonah Bear came for his week-long summer visit (Jonahpalooza), TCP waited until nightfall to take him out to the garage for a little surprise. As Jonah and I watched, TCP turned off the overhead light and with the push of a few buttons on a hand-held remote, he blew Jonah Bear’s mind. It started with “Whoa!” and morphed into “Cool!” and ended with a giant bear hug and a booming “You’re the BEST PAPI EVER!” For me, it was ‘cue the waterworks’ but for Jonah Bear it was ‘cue the rock-n-roll music’ as he launched into a spontaneous air guitar performance the likes of which I have never seen.

Have I mentioned lately that I love this kid to pieces?

8 Comments

Filed under Family Stuff

Musings on Austin, Motorcycles, Grandkids & Sleep Deprivation

Well, it’s Tuesday and I’ve just wrapped up 10 action-packed days with the grandbabies, Jonah Bear and Lilly Bug. I thought I would feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a recuperative night’s sleep, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I was up until 3:00am, and I’m feeling totally wiped out. So instead of crafting a dazzling literary recap, I’m opting for a random run-down of what transpired. I apologize in advance for taking the lazy way out. Forgive me. I beg of you.

1. Our adventure started June 10th when The Complete Package saddled up the motorcycle and Ziggy and I manned the “support vehicle” for our trip to Austin. It was our annual pilgrimage for the Republic of Texas motorcycle rally. TCP attends the bike rally; Ziggy and I spend the weekend with the kids. The ROT Rally is said to be the largest in Texas and one of the biggest in the US. Approximately 200,000 participants were expected. This year, TCP entered his new motorcycle in an open division contest and took second place in the Metric Custom category. Got a trophy and everything. My Baby and I took the kids downtown to watch the motorcycles parade past the state capitol and down Congress Avenue on Friday evening. Have you ever seen a motorcycle parade that runs for 11 uninterrupted miles and takes more than 30 minutes to pass? It’s pretty awesome, even if you’re not that into motorcycles. The kids were enthralled, and seeing their Papi ride by in the parade was a highlight. In their minds, Papi (TCP) is now a rock star. You go with your bad self, Papi. Here’s a shot of his bike, or as I like to refer to it – “the other woman”.

2. Bama Boy, our son-in-law, introduced us to his favorite meat market. It’s called Johnny G’s and it’s located in Manchaca, just south of Austin. It is best described as a small, family run meat palace. We bought two hand-cut ribeye steaks for Bama Boy and TCP (about 1.5″ thick) and two smaller steaks for My Baby and I. Then we snagged some smoked jalapeno cheese sausage and some spices. It’s a great little Mom & Pop shop, and those ribeyes were Uh-May-Zing.

3. Turns out Peter Pan is alive and well and recruiting Lost Boys in the Austin area. Who knew? If I could bottle Jonah Bear’s energy, I’d be a guhzillionaire.

4. If you take two kids and two adult women, put them in a car in the dark of night with a multi-colored flashing disco ball light stick and a cool blue light saber, add vintage rock music and park them at a Sonic Drive-In, you’re bound to draw attention. It may or may not have been a coincidence that a police cruiser pulled in just as we were leaving. Look, kids! It’s the Fuzz!

5. There’s no such thing as “too many pancakes” or “enough donuts.”

6. Behold the power of cheese! (Remember those commercials?) Hi, Lilly Bug.

7. After spending 6 days in Austin, I brought the kids back to Houston to spend the weekend at our place. My Baby and Bama Boy were celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary, so a kid-free weekend seemed like an appropriate gift. It was a total win-win for all of us. We wore those kids out. Wore ’em out good!

8. This weekend, Jonah Bear and TCP made homemade cherry pecan ice cream and lasagna. There’s nothing better than men who cook, except for men who cook and then do their own dishes. At 4 years old, Jonah is really getting into the cooking part. We’ll work on washing dishes another time. As for TCP, the man can scour a pan. And no, you can’t have him. And no, he doesn’t have a brother.

9. If I’ve seen Disney’s Tangled once, I’ve seen it a millions times. Jonah Bear usually pretends to be the hero. Lilly is the leading lady. I’m usually the villain (totally against type, I know) and Ziggy is the sidekick. This time, Jonah decided the bad guys were cooler, so he played the roll of the Stabbington brothers (twins). That’s right. Just when you think one bad guy’s enough, Disney produces twins. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a really cute movie. My favorite character – the little old cupid dude at the very end. Makes me laugh every single time.

10. Jonah Bear cried when it was time to head home. I cried when he started crying. Then TCP started crying. I’m telling you, we were one hot mess. Everything you’ve heard about being a grandparent is true. There is such joy in watching your babies grow up and have babies of their own. There is such freedom in enjoying your grandbabies without the stress and anxiety you felt with your own children. You really do learn a lot with age, and there’s a great sense of peace that comes with knowing you didn’t screw it up. Our daughter is amazing. Our son-in-law is a blessing. Their children are the greatest gift ever, and in all seriousness, we couldn’t love them more. Life is good. Really good.

Now if you’ll excuse us, Ziggy and I could really use a nap. A really long nap.

20 Comments

Filed under Family Stuff