Texas landscape

What a beautiful day in south Texas!  It’s January almost February and it was 76 degrees.  I really love the outdoors!  And I like to spend time in the “garden”.  For suburbia that means working in the yard.  Lots of people hire people to do the yard work.  We do not, only because I enjoy it.  Besides we have what I consider a postage stamp size yard and it takes about 45 minutes total to mow, edge, blow and sweep.

We do get a nice break between October and March.  There is very little mowing going on at this time.  In fact, maybe once a month your yard might need a little edging.  This is the time of year that some people trim the crepe myrtles.  The crepe myrtle is my favorite ornamental tree.   It has beautiful flowers in the summer time and they can be pink, red, white or purple.  They say this tree grows in the south, however, being from the south and not Texas, I don’t remember seeing them anywhere until I got to Texas.  Then I was like wow!  That is a pretty tree.  As I mentioned they can be an ornamental tree if you trim them.  Some people call this the practice of crepe murder.  I can understand that is a little disturbing to lovers of this tree.  The thing is, the crepe myrtle can grow to be quite large.  If you trim them, they stay ornamental.  During the winter they lose their leaves and in the spring they grow their leaves back and do not actually flower until summer.

I love keeping an eye on the budding, leaf sprout and finally the flower. I have no idea why I get so excited to see the first flower. I have three crepe myrtles with a very dark pink flower.  Two of them must be a different variety because I have trimmed them all the same and two are much smaller than the one.  Or maybe it’s the sun exposure…I doubt it though.  I use a lopper to trim them.  This year on the big one I used a 9 foot electric pole saw and that just made my life a whole lot easier.  I would spend hours on a ladder with a lopper on this one tree.  But not this year.  I got that puppy trimmed in no time.  Ready for spring now!

trimmed myrtle

Before:

untrimmed myrtle

Our yard has transformed over the years.  I spent a lot of time on the back yard planting palm trees and all of the other plants in the landscaping.   Another one of my favorite ornamental plants is oleander.  This one also flowers white and pink, but it doesn’t lose its leaves in the winter.  This past fall I took out the three oleanders I had growing like trees.  They become massive and it’s really hard to manicure them.  After about 10 years and some years of drought parts of the plant die so it doesn’t look quite as healthy or uniform.   I love this plant not only for its beauty but for its hardiness.  I don’t water them, so they take the Texas heat.  They don’t drop their leaves in the winter and most of the year they have their beautiful flowers (especially, spring, summer and fall).  If you ever want to take one of these out.  Be prepared for battle.  I think I spent 2 hours per oleander cutting and shoveling it out of the ground.  It is one strong plant.   I planted oleander again.  I just can’t get enough of their beautiful flowers and ease of care.

Texas landscape

Tennis anyone?

Ok time to blog about tennis.  What is the significance of living in Texas and tennis?  Well! For one thing, you can play tennis pretty much year round.  It’s “winter” now and even though it was 40 degrees the other night, I ended up shedding layers and played tennis in yoga pants and a light weight jacket.  It warms up pretty quickly.

I’ve always been an avid active person and I will say that over the years my interest in activities has changed.  I once loved aerobics, skating and biking.  Now I am more in to tennis, pilates and running.  It’s important to pick something that you love.  The real trick is to find something that doesn’t feel like it’s a chore to do.  Tennis is that for me.  I have met a very nice group of friends through tennis.   So the benefits are exercise and socialization.  It’s also something you can play on multiple skill levels and keep playing at any age.

We have some very nice facilities around town.  The courts closest to me are part of a club.  And the benefit there is that you schedule your courts to guarantee a spot.  They have in house mixers (parties with food and play for fun), leagues you can join and charity events! We also do traveling leagues through USTA with our home court at the club. There are public facilities around town and even a few indoor options (which is nice if you want to avoid a rain out).

I’ve been to some really nice country clubs (with servers dressed in white suits serving food in silver covered platters) so tennis can be on the really extravagant end to the common municipal or neighborhood courts.  If you play in the day and not at one of those fancy country clubs, then usually everyone brings something, like bananas, Gatorade, something salty or sweet.  At night it’s all about bringing martinis 🙂

So this is why tennis is my absolute favorite thing to do.  And most of the time, even in the hot summer…I think the weather is gorgeous!  Let’s not forget the cute little tennis skirts you wear!

This year is the first time I’ve ever captained a team for a USTA league.  It’s just a little bit of organization work.  Sometimes there is tennis drama.  And you know with ladies that can get really ugly.  “That ball was out!… Are you sure?”  My favorite comment, “that ball would have been out in day league!”  And then rule arguments, voice lets, score calling (this happens a lot, you get into a point and then forget the score). And some people get really angry if they are losing.  Tennis has a pretty big mental component as well as a skill component.  I really try to keep my mental toughness up and have a pleasant demeanor even if I’m playing badly.  If I can see my opponent is clearly better or my partner is not doing so hot, then I try to focus on what I can do.  Which is focus on making less of my own mistakes and keeping up with the positivity.  I’ve seen some people that look like they are having a miserable time playing tennis and that is just not the point.  Most people don’t win every game…and you can come back and win if you are down 5 games! It’s not over till it’s over!

If you haven’t tried tennis, one way to start is to join a club and take some lessons.  By starting with mixers and in-house leagues you will only meet more people and find more opportunities to play.   Even now a days there are meetup groups online (meetup.com) if you do a search.  And you can do flex leagues through USTA to schedule games with new people organized through USTA.  I’ve had fun learning from different coaches, all have contributed something to my game.  The investment you make into it is worth the health and social benefit!tennis

Tennis anyone?

Waco

On the way back from Dallas, I wanted to stop by Waco.  HGTV has a show called Fixer Upper.   The stars of the show purchased a silo location in the middle of downtown Waco and turned it into a home decorating store.  On TV they make Waco out to be a really cute quaint Texas town with cheap properties on big lots that can be purchased and turned into amazing properties.

What I have heard about Waco…  I’ve always been told it’s in the middle of no where.  And not to be disrespectful because I’ve only heard this from a few people… that say it is the arm pit of Texas.  That might make some Texans mad!  When telling people I want to go there, I got some odd looks followed by the question why?

What I saw…it is a small town.  It’s home to a very prestigious college Baylor which by the way is a really nice campus and in downtown Waco.  The store from the show is called Magnolia Farms.  On TV it looked like it was in the middle of no where.   It’s actually right in the center of town with lots of buildings surrounding it.

waco

The building above is the store.  It has all of the typical things the star Joanna uses to decorate.  Her style uses a mix of jars, vases and old pieces (wood and rustic metal), cute.  The store was PACKED. People from all over came to this tiny town to be in this store.  One lady was from Beaumont Texas which is quite a distance from Waco.  There were others from Louisiana and Alabama.  People were buying up the stuff!  As I walked around the store I realized that the style is just not my style.  And to add to it, I don’t have the vision to take pieces and make something out of it.  So while people were buying up the cotton wreaths in droves, I passed and got out of it the experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like the show a lot.  While waiting in line for the restroom the lady behind me said the stars of the show are so down to earth.  My thought, I can see the real cheese factor in their on screen “playfulness”.  Even in their commercials promoting the show one of the stars says “Now that is good TV”…I don’t know that just screams CHEESE to me.   But whatever, there are a lot of worse things to watch on TV.  And I will bet these people make a lot of money on their business ventures, they know what they are doing.  This store seems to be successful…good for them!

waco2

Can’t make it to Waco, no worries, the store is online.  The picture above is of the metal cut signs she uses on the show.  They have two sizes small and large.  I think on the show she doesn’t use these standardized sizes, but you can own one of the cutesy sayings she incorporates in her designs.  My favorite saying of the choices, “let what you do today be enough”.

So what about the silos????

waco3

It’s a photo spot at best.  There is nothing in the silos.  It’s just for decoration.  They do have a green space for kids to play in front and food trucks on the perimeter.

I would like to return to Waco some day.  There is the Doctor Pepper museum and a Heritage village.  It is worth a day trip or weekend with some girl friends!  I really enjoy the small Texas towns.  They are really unique!

 

Waco

Business Trip

This is the time of year of an annual kick off meeting for work.  It’s in Dallas.  I decided to drive for many reasons.  To me drive or fly is going to take the same amount of time if you consider the prep work and getting to and from the airport.  Air travel these days isn’t really pleasant either.  So rather than be irritated and concerned over flight timing, I’d rather go myself on my time!  On the way I wanted to stop by two places.  One is in Corsicana.  Corsicana is home to the famous Collin Street Bakery that makes the best fruit cakes (it has to be true since it was featured on Food network on TV).  I don’t particularly like fruit cake because fruit cake has a reputation of being that one hard Christmas food that no one wants.

The bakery charges a pretty penny for one of their cakes!  It was $18 for a 5 inch diameter cake!  I cheated a little and went to the one that is on the freeway, instead of in the heart of Corsicana.  From googlemaps I don’t think I missed anything.  Since the bakery was started by a German baker in 1896, I was hoping the original would be in a really old building. However, after some checking, the original bakery moved in 1967 to a location off of Collin Street.  The one on the highway is way cuter looking…

collinst

So after my little side trip, it was back on the road.  Rainy and cold!  BRRRR!  They had us stay at a really nice hotel for the kick off meeting.  Apparently there are 4 other Gaylord hotels in other states.  This one was definitely decorated Texas style!  It is quite exceptional.  The hotel is completely enclosed and there are so many rooms (like over a thousand…I looked it up)!  Some rooms face the middle and some face the lake.  There are little restaurants that are like mini buildings inside that look Alamo-ish!

gaylord

Just amazing.  I’m thinking this is probably the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in.

gaylord2

They had shops with nice clothing, jackets, boots, jewelry, and high end purses.  I didn’t go into the restaurant or one of the coffee shops.  Just didn’t have time…sigh.

The conference rooms are very nice.  I work in a high tech industries.  What is exciting and scary at the same time is the idea of the internet of things, always being connected and the concept of being co-dependent with technology.  I always knew that the future of technology would be explosive.  I wanted to be a part of that!  Getting older and seeing the new generation’s adaptive behaviors to technology as part of life is interesting to me. Especially because I experienced life before it.  There are components of life before technology that are nice such as less anxiety, being present, and enjoying things free of charge.

The convention center experience now is amazing.  Very high tech.  As we moved through classes and general discussion of the business and vision of where we need to be it’s hard not to be overwhelmed with how to put this into practical play.  They did a good job of feeding you (both knowledge and sustenance) and providing information and social opportunity in a very nice comfortable setting!

Just one more pic of design elements to add to the experience of a nice place for business Texas style.  What I see is stone work, the mix of elements (big cedar beams and iron fixtures), pops of color the blue chair with a design resembling punched tin embroidery in the fabric combined with leather.  And of course, an over-sized wood burning fire place. ❤

gaylord3

 

 

 

 

 

Business Trip

CHEVRON MARATHON

RACE PREPARATION

The Houston marathon is a pretty big thing every year.  There are 31 charities that are supported and over 33000 participants and almost $2 million raised.  If you signed up at the end of the event last year, you were guaranteed a spot for this year.  Signing up without knowing what condition you will be in to run in one year is pretty bold.  Everyone’s training is different.  My preparation consists of running twice a week for 2 and ½ miles (since 2011).  I figured I could do a half marathon because I always felt I could just keep going.  A friend of mine ran the ½ last year and inspired me to try it.  Sadly her health and conditioning isn’t where it needs to be to run this year.  Fortunately I have another friend who likes to run that is running and we are going together.

Last weekend I ran my first 10 miles ever in a row.  It took me 2 hours.  With just 3 additional miles, I’m pretty sure I can do it.  This is now officially a bucket list thing for me to do.  I always liked bike riding and thought the MS150 would be my bucket list fitness thing, and it still may be.  I just didn’t think running would be first.  I like to run the 2 and ½ miles a couple of times a week, but it’s not my favorite exercise.

Race packet pickup is the day before at the convention center.  They have all kinds of running things to sell.  I got a new running belt to hold my phone and keys.  They have nutrition tips and advice for dressing.  It’s going to be just under 40 degrees.  Many people run in shorts in 40 degree weather, NOT ME!  Since I ran last weekend in the cold, pants and a jacket with some lip balm should be good!  And maybe some ibuprofen.

Experienced runners encourage you to eat pasta before running.  Yeah!  Eating pasta without feeling guilty!  That and keep hydrating.  It makes since to go to bed early too.  I will be at my friend’s house at 5:30am.

RACE DAY

It was cold!  On your race bib there is a letter designator with your number that tells you what corral to go to.   Our corral started at 7AM, although by the time we actually started it was more like 7:30, it takes that long!  There are lots of people that toss jackets and clothing on the streets that are later picked up and donated.

There are so many people that are cheering you on with words of encouragement and support.  They mark the course with mile markers and have water, Gatorade and bathrooms along the way.  Lots of people hold up signs and there was a lot of music played along the way.

They close off many streets and the course went around downtown and into some neighborhoods and Montrose.   I stayed with my friends for about 3 miles then kept my own pace behind.

Young and old run!  So fun to see all different people!

The most exciting thing for me was to see the 10 mile mark and then the George R. Brown center roof top red pipes.  I knew the finish line was close!

They gave us finisher shirts and a metal!  And the grocery store HEB provided a very nice hot meal!  Eggs, a biscuit, banana, sausage, yogurt and hot chocolate!  AWESOME!

metal

My family tracked me online.  The bib has a sensor on it and every so often on the course there is a marker you cross and it records your progress and makes estimates for when you will hit the next one.

Pedicure time!

CHEVRON MARATHON

Midweek FUN!

It was really hard to figure out what to get my son for Christmas.  He doesn’t like getting clothes, has the games he wants and didn’t want any particular thing.  He loves sports and right now it is basketball season.  I thought it would be good to get tickets for a game.  I don’t know why sporting events can be so expensive!  We wanted good seats if we are going to make the trip there.  I ordered tickets online and used “Flash Seats” for the first time.  What an awesome thing that is.  It was difficult to trust the process, because you show up without a paper ticket and nothing on your phone.  You link your tickets with your ID through the Flash Seats app and bam, when you give the ticket taker your ID they print you your seats that you ordered.

howard.jpg

I thought I had good seats but wow, we had great seats.  We could talk to the players if we wanted to.    It’s so different watching a game live than on TV.  There is a lot of distraction. There is music, the awesomeness of the fact that you are seeing the full attributes of the players right in front of you, you can see plays differently because you are looking at what you want to, not what the TV is showing you.  Of course there are many different types of people watching the game.  Every time there is a time out dancers come out or some kind of honor is presented.  There are games in-between time outs with the audience.  It can be over stimulating.  My son had anxiety after the game, this is mid week and of course he needs to go to school.  I am letting him sleep a little more, he will go late.  Thinking about all of what was going on I can see how that might have effected him.  It was stimulation on steroids.  Coming back to our quiet home we just don’t have near that level of activity.  I had trouble concentrating on any one thing in particular at the game because there was so much going on.   It’s amazing to me how people adapt to over stimulation.  My husband seems to tune things out.  I will say did you notice something and he will completely not.  It’s hard when there is so much going on to be aware, mindful.

Anyway, being close to a big city we have a great venue for sports.  Baseball, football and basketball are all fantastic.  The athleticism of the players is nothing short of amazing.  I think I was most impressed with the athlete’s ability to use their fast twitch muscles.  I never really noticed that before.  But wow, it’s amazing to see someone move like that!  And to see them pass the ball and make amazing plays effortlessly!  win

 

 

Midweek FUN!

Inspirational de-clutter!

So my sister in law and I were chatting about clutter.  I consider her a pretty good queen of clean and really admire that.  I mean I want to be clean, not to the point where it’s uncomfortable.  Anyway, so the new year is a great time that inspires me even more so to get rid of the old unnecessary clutter.  I have heard people say if you haven’t used it in three years (some say even a year) then it’s time to get rid of it.  Now of COURSE that doesn’t mean getting rid of something extra special but it would have to really be special.   One great trick I learned is if you just can’t part with something your kids made or you received, then take a picture of it.  It’s a whole lot easier to store digital than something that takes up precious real estate.  If it’s small enough to scrap book then keeping it for a photo album should not cost too much of your space.

Some get attached to their things.  I hope to inspire freedom with getting rid of it!  Detach from things! We are very fortunate to have a Goodwill practically right outside of the neighborhood.  I have my bags of old clothes and shoes to take over there and my closet now looks less cluttered.  That’s something to be happy about!  I have three coffee pots.  Why? I just got a fourth to replace the one I use.  Looking at these old coffee pots I’m thinking why did I ever save them for so long?   I mean really they are NASTY!  They do function.  It is just not possible to clean them up.  And the one I am using leaks.  So it functions and leaks all over the counter every time.  There is some guilt in throwing things away because they take up space in a land fill.  Recycling is best where ever possible.  Collecting things that I will never use in my living space isn’t a good solution though.

goodwill

Buying less things helps.  If I don’t absolutely need it, I don’t get it.  So going to the store and buying a great buy in the hopes I will use it will never work for me.  I don’t even like going to the bulk stores.  First I don’t know where the heck I would put it and second if I buy it I want to use it … all of it.  Otherwise it’s a waste!  The funny thing is this is where my sister-in-law and I differ.  She does go to the bulk stores.  We tease each other about it.  I’ll say hmmm, where did you get that?  And she replies … Costco, wink wink!

All of this to say…can’t wait to enjoy a good cup of coffee!  I really hope this coffee pot lasts a long time.  I went with a very bold color this time.  Hopefully waking up to that color will get me to start my day cheery and energetic.   It’s even brighter in the picture!  That should wake anyone up!

coffee

Inspirational de-clutter!