Tag Archives: Texas

Houston 2012 Art Car Parade

The Complete Package and I attended our first Houston Art Car Parade this weekend. What a hoot! Over 300 cars entered this year’s parade; each one of them unique and entertaining. Here’s a look at this year’s event, starting with Houston’s mayor. Note: You can click on any photo to see it in a larger format, then simply hit the ‘back arrow’ on your computer to return to the blog.

And to prove that it’s not just about the cars, here’s a tribute to my favorite “accessory” of the day. Caution – you may not be able to handle all this sexy.

To the funny & friendly lady who sat behind us at the parade ogling the Viking Skater man (I believe her name was Lynn) – that one was for you. {wink}

If you’d like to learn more about the Houston Art Car Parade, please visit their website at http://www.thehoustonartcarparade.com/

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Postcards from Small Town Texas

The Complete Package and I have been enjoying scenic drives to small towns throughout Texas. This is the first in a series of photo collections documenting our lazy day adventures and highlighting these small town Texas treasures.

First Stop: Hallettsville, Texas

Hallettsville, Texas is located between Houston and San Antonio on Old Highway 90, 17 miles south of I-10. To learn more, visit www.texasescapes.com.

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Houston Treasure: Glenwood Cemetery

A cemetery may not be everyone’s idea of a local treasure, but there is one in Houston that fits the description. It’s not just a cemetery… it’s a sanctuary for those who shaped the city of Houston throughout its history. Established in 1872, early settlers, city founders, empire builders and beloved city residents rest here. Most famously, it is the final resting place of billionaire businessman Howard Hughes. But it’s the men and women who shaped the city of Houston that catch my eye – Milam, Allen, Rice, Cooley, Hermann, Harris, Hobby, Hofheinz, and Wortham. Glenwood Cemetery is a place of contrast – loss & peace, pain & comfort, simplicity & beauty, and history in the shadow of downtown skyscrapers. This is my photo tribute to those who rest here.

“Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow; I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight that ripened grain; I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush,
Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there; I did not die.”
– Irish funeral prayer

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The Austin Nature & Science Center

There’s a place in Austin where nature is a hands-on experience. Where kids are not only allowed to touch stuff, they’re encouraged. And best of all, it’s free!

Inside the Austin Nature & Science Center

Where things that crawl, swim, walk and fly are celebrated and racks of antlers, bins of bones, a table of fur pelts and a bowl of snake skins are at your fingertips.

Have you ever wanted to touch a bowl of snake skins? Me, neither!

Where real snakes rule and rubber snakes drool, a wacky lizard hangs upside down near his own personal heat lamp, and a fat bobcat poses for pictures.

Now this is a lizard I could hang with.

And then there are the live birds of prey, a coyote, a few foxes and a skunk in rehab. There’s also a dinosaur pit where you can dig for replica fossils, a lake surrounded by wildflowers, and 14 foot tile mosaic lizard that climbs a wall.

They have a dinosaur pit! Can you dig it?

The Austin Nature and Science Center is located on the western edge of Zilker Park, which has a wide range of outdoor activities, as well. If you have children, you need to add this to your list of “go to” places in Austin. Pack a picnic, hit a playground, and explore the Science Center all within the boundaries of Zilker Park. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon with your kids. They’ll have so much fun, they won’t even know they’re learning.

There's so much to touch and see at the Austin Nature & Science Center.

To learn more, you can go to: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/ansc/exhibits.htm

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Know what I love about fall? Breaking out my collection of pajama pants!

How do I love pajama pants? Let me count the ways!

Fall is here, and it’s time to break out my collection of pajama pants. Oh, how I love my pajama pants. So much so, that I feel compelled to share a few random thoughts with you – my close friends and confidants. Hope you don’t mind.

1. Down here in South Hades (Houston, TX), it’s just too dadgum hot to wear PJ pants year round. That’s why I look forward to cold weather, when the highs dip below 98F, the humidity drops below 140% and there’s a not-so-blistering-as-usual breeze in the air. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting closer. Close enough to make me break out the PJ pants collection and get them ready.

2. I’d wear pajama pants all day long if I could get away with it at the doctor’s office or grocery store or the post office. You laugh, but I’ve actually seen people wearing them out in public. Did they forget or something?

3. I don’t know why, but I don’t really go for the PJ tops. Buying the full set is a waste of money for me. I prefer to wear PJ pants with t-shirts. It’s more comfortable. Or maybe it’s that I’m menopausal and sleeping in a flannel shirt with night sweats would make me crazy enough to kill someone (unintentionally, of course).

4. My collection includes both flannel and cotton PJ pants. It’s like the old party conundrum – “black tie” or “business casual”? I like to wear the lightweight cotton pants when it’s cool, and the flannel for special occasions. And by special occasions, I mean Christmas. My Baby (my beautiful daughter) and I started buying matching PJ pants to wear on Christmas morning when she was in high school. That was 10 years ago, and we still try to buy them each year. I love family holiday traditions.

A few of my cute Nick & Nora pajamas from Suuupah Target

5. I seem to have more than my fair share of Nick & Nora PJ’s from my favorite store, Suuupah Target. I especially love their sock monkey PJ’s, but I also have a super cute pair with snow globes from the 50 states on them. Another favorite pair has girly lingerie on hangers and clotheslines. Love them!

6. What would a pair of pajama pants in the winter be without fuzzy socks? My favorites are the ones made by the “Life is Good” people. They’re cuddly, fuzzy perfection. I also love this sweet pink pair with the fuzzy bunny cuffs. So cute, and so toasty warm. They’re like a hug for your feet from someone you love.

Fuzzy Socks - A warm hug for your tootsies.

7. A word of caution: don’t wear fuzzy socks when you’re carrying your over-loaded laundry basket down the stairs (lesson learned the hard way) and don’t chase your dog on wood floors with your fuzzy socks on, or you’ll be singing “Wipe Out!” in your sleep.

8. Don’t mix fuzzy socks and polar fleece blankets. They tend to stick together, and you run the risk of getting tangled up when you try to run for the bathroom during television commercial breaks. Not to mention the fact that you’ll get popped with static electricity. Personally, I think it would be a hoot to rub a polar fleece blanket on your head and then walk into a room and say “Honey, the pregnancy test came out positive!” That seems pretty dang funny when you’re 47 and menopausal.

Happy fall, y’all! I hope you have a season filled with punkins, cool weather, crisp apples, homemade soups and stews, and comfortable pajama pants with fuzzy socks. I don’t think there’s anything better this time of year!

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“Buy Local” Spotlight: Lola Savannah Coffee Company of Houston, TX

Hawaiian Grog Coffee - Hello, Luvah

As I’ve said before, buying products grown or produced in my own community is a new passion of mine. I find myself looking for local products more and more often when I shop. I like the idea of buying stuff made or grown close to home. It makes me feel like I’m helping make Houston a better, more self-sufficient place. With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to the Lola Savannah Coffee Company. They opened for business in 1995, and are known for producing an incredible array of coffees and teas while staying committed to sustainable agricultural practices. Their list of flavored coffees alone is staggering. My personal favorite is “Hawaiian Grog.” It’s incredibly tasty, and it also makes my house smell fabulous when I brew it. Here’s how it’s described on their website:

“You don’t need to be Hawaiian or groggy to enjoy this special mix of 100% Arabica beans, real coconut flakes, Highland crème, and just a hint of coconut crème. You’ll be saying “Aloha” with every sip!” -LSCC

They’re right. Sometimes, early in the morning, I whisper “Aloha, Hawaiian Grog! I love you soooo much!” before I take that first sip. It’s really good stuff, especially if you’re a nut for coffee and coconut like me. Other flavors I plan to try soon: Almond Bliss, Angel Dust, Chocolate Crème Brule, Strudel Cake and Tiramisu. My winner for their most unique blend is “Lunch with Elvis.” That’s right…it’s a peanut butter and banana flavored coffee. Yes, I know it sounds bizarre, but I’ve tried it and it’s actually pretty good. Unexpected, for sure, but it’s good! You’ve got to give it to them – it’s pretty clever.

I like to buy my Lola Savannah coffee from the large bulk barrels at my local HEB Market so I can grind my own, but HEB also sells small foil packages so you can try other flavors in small batches. They can also be found in Central Market and Fiesta stores in south Texas. If you’re not from the Houston area and/or you don’t have access to an HEB market, don’t sweat it! If you’re more of a tea person than a coffee person, that’s okay too! They sell both! They have a really nice website with online ordering. They’re also thoughtful enough to include a page called “Coffee 101” to help you learn more about coffee in general, and a “Brewing Tips” tutorial to help you make that perfect cup of Joe. Intrigued yet? I hope so. They certainly got my attention, and now they’re a part of my morning routine. You can check them out at www.lolacc.com.

As a special treat for one lucky reader, I’m giving away three sample pouches of Lola Savannah coffee. The flavors are Texas Pecan, Lunch with Elvis, and Chocolate Creme. Leave a comment telling me your favorite flavor or type of coffee and where you get it. Be sure to include your e-mail address. All entries must be received by midnight Central Standard Time on Thursday, October 7, 2010. One winner will be chosen at random and notified by e-mail on Friday, October 8, 2010. I’ll post an update on the blog to announce the winner, as well.

Lola Savannah Coffee Samples - 1.75 ozs. each

Disclaimer: The Lola Savannah Coffee Company of Houston, Texas has no earthly idea who in the tarnation NanaBread is, so it goes without saying that they have in no way compensated or bribed her to provide this endorsement. But that won’t stop her from buying her weekly pound of Hawaiian Grog and shooting her mouth off about it. The sample packs for the giveaway were purchased by NanaBread with her own cash money. That just proves how much she loves this stuff and how strongly she feels it must be shared with the coffee lovers of the world. Think of this as a public service announcement for fellow java junkies everywhere (12-step program not included).

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Things I Love, Volume 3: Austin’s SoCo

I’m in Austin, Texas this week spending time with My Baby and the world’s smartest grandkids, Jonah Bear and Lilly Bug. While they were at school and daycare, I spent some time in one of my favorite areas of Austin – SoCo.

South Congress Shopping is Funky Fun

South Congress Avenue runs due south from the state capital building cutting through the heart of downtown Austin and into one of the most unique shopping and dining areas in the city. On weekends and evenings, this place is jumpin’. Parking can be a mess (especially on Saturdays) but the variety of shops and restaurants make it worthwhile. Everything from antiques to candy and cowboy boots to cupcakes, as well as great food can be found on South Congress. If you’re into the twinkling lights in the live oak trees on a patio with a cold adult beverage scene, you’ll find lots of good choices here after dark. I go for the shopping. If you’re looking for Austin hot spots, SoCo is on fire. If you’re ever in town, you have to go. To get you started, here are just a few of the shops I love:

Big Top Candy Shop
This candy shop rocks my world. I love the circus themed decor and the absolutely huge variety of treats they offer. This place carries the candy of my childhood – orange slices, circus peanuts, chick-o-sticks, candy corn…I could go on and on. They have a section with gummi everything. They have a retro section with hard to find candies from the past. They have bins of M&Ms in every color. They have a handmade chocolates counter where you’ll find irresistible treats like sea salt caramels, homemade fudge and get this – chocolate covered bacon. You heard me. If that’s not enough to entice you, they also have an old-fashioned popcorn machine and an ice cream counter. This place is a sugar lover’s mecca and a circus lover’s shrine. Big Top Candy doesn’t have a website, but you can connect with them on Facebook or MySpace. You AND your kids will love this place. You can find them at 1706 South Congress.

Inside the Big Top Candy Shop

Farm to Market Grocery
I love this little organic market. It’s tiny, but it’s packed with organic products from all over. They carry local items and produce, as well as items I’ve never seen and that excites me. I like to discover new things and expand my view of the world. My Baby introducted me to Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-In-One organic peppermint liquid soap in this little market. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this soap. It wakes me up in the morning like no other, and the tingly peppermint senstation feels fabulous after a hot day in the Texas sun. The selection of organic vegetables and carry-out foods like hummus and samosas are just lovely. Drop in for a fair trade fiesta sometime. And don’t forget to pick up some soap. Farm to Market Grocery is located at 1718 South Congress. http://www.fm1718.com

Farm to Market Grocery - An Organic Dream

Hey, Cupcake!
I couldn’t get a good photo of this place. It’s a cupcake shop inside of a stainless steel Airstream trailer, and it catches the sun like a kaleidoscope. Every photo is pure glare. Maybe it’s not the sunshine. Maybe it’s the aura coming off the giant rotating cupcake on top of the trailer! When you try them, you’ll hear angels sing. If you love cupcakes (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t) this place needs to be on your radar. The cupcakes are big and fluffy and delicious, and for a few pennies more they’ll even pump a big shot of whipped cream right down the middle of it. Flavor choices include red velvet, carrot cake and winner of my favorite name, the Michael Jackson. It’s a chocolate cupcake with white butter cream frosting. I can state from personal experience that the carrot cake and red velvet cupcakes are extraordinary. Want to try them? I like to visit the trailer at 1600 South Congress, but there are other locations around Austin. Visit their website to find them. But find them you must! http://www.heycupcake.com.

Uncommon Objects
I saved the best for last. This is one of my favorite shops to kill an hour in. It’s fun and funky and literally filled to the rafters with antiques and collectibles.

Uncommon Objects - Floor to Ceiling Fun

That’s a winning combination in my book. If I were a hoarder, this place would be crack to me. There’s so much to see, you really need to go back again and again. I love that every nook and cranny is filled with unexpected treasures.

Nooks & Crannies Galore at Uncommon Objects

Some nooks are sorted by color. Some crannies are sorted by item type. Whatever you’re looking for, they’ve probably got it. I love that you never know what’s around the next corner. This ain’t no ordinary antique shop!

This Place is Full of Uncommon Objects

Lots of stores advertise that they carry “something for everyone” but Uncommon Objects exemplifies it. There is truly a treasure for every treasure hunter. Uncommon Objects is located at 1512 South Congress Avenue. http://www.uncommonobjects.com

And so, my friends, if you’re ever in Austin and need some “me time” and a spa isn’t your cup of tea, visit South Congress, or SoCo, as the locals call it. There are 5-6 blocks of unique shops to browse, coffee spots to soothe your caffeine addiction, and a multitude of restaurants with fabulously shaded patios and views of the state capitol. It’s a great place to stroll with friends and family and take in the funky fun Austin has to offer. Don’t forget to pick up some chocolate covered bacon. I got mine!

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