Signs of Spring   

What was the verdict with Punxsutawney Phil…the ground hog?  Did he see his shadow or not?  It’s been four weeks since ground hogs day and here there are signs of spring! Spring is one of the best times of year in Texas.  The weather is cool and pleasant and the color change is magnificent!  Everything just seems greener.  The trees bud and leaf out.  The flowers bloom. One of my favs is the red bud tree.  During the summer it looks like a regular tree, it loses its leaves in the winter and in spring you only see these beautiful pinkish purple (red I guess) blooms.

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We are starting to see the beginning of pine pollen.  We get a dumping of the yellow powdery stuff for a good two weeks straight!  It gets on everything!  You can see the pine trees with the male pine cones that release the pollen.  Just a simple touch or wind blow and the yellow powder comes out.

pine

People with allergies are having a hard time.  I’m not really sure what the secret is to avoiding allergy problems.  It doesn’t bother some people.  On occasion the amount of stuff in the air will clog my sinuses. We just need a good rain to wash it away!  Weeds are definitely everywhere too!  Landscape companies are really happy because they are going to be really busy!  Home Depot and the garden centers too!   Some plants need to be trimmed back and currently look like branches (like bougainvillea and esperanza)  Although, this year we didn’t have a freeze to take out the plants or make them bare probably because we are in the El Nino weather pattern.

It’s amazing to see your surroundings come back to life!  In winter we see a lot of dormant trees and the leafing out is pretty cool.  Spring is such a show.  On the first act, we have trees like the red bud beginning to bloom, and then we will have more plants blooming in a couple of weeks.  On the finale, the entire yard’s shrubs are in full bloom … indian hawthorne, bottle brush, oleander and yesterday, today and tomorrow shrubs as well as petunias and lantana.    And let’s not forget the wildflowers!   This year I’m excited to have a couple of opportunities to see their beautiful display out of the suburbs. (since everybody mows, the wildflowers don’t have a chance, that’s why it’s best to see them on the side of the road between cities or in the country).  Even if you are not a plant enthusiast, there is no denying an appreciation for the life and beauty around you.  I so look forward to spring!

This year I’m really excited to go with a friend to the azalea trail in a couple of weeks in the city with some really old well established grounds.  I’ve never been!  Azalea’s are so beautiful.  And kind of hard to maintain.  I tried it once and for a while they were gorgeous! They like acidic soil, so if they are planted around pine trees, I’ve heard that helps!    Why not take some time to smell the roses?  I’m still thinking about doing some kind of herb garden.  I’m not big on plant commitment…and so that explains the azalea failure!  Plants need to be hardy and survive if I don’t water it!   Fortunately if you go native, there are plenty of plants that will do well under those circumstances. Rosemary grows really well here too and smells so good.  And for a little garden/patio treat, tomatoes.  Just have to pick them before the birds and that is a challenge because the birds will go for them before they are ripe.  Sometimes I’ve had better luck with cherry tomatoes.  Nature ❤

 

 

 

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Signs of Spring   

Work Life Key to Happiness?

If you could go back in time knowing what you know now, would you have chosen a different path?  It’s funny how things evolve to how you choose your path.  I never would have guessed the future would be living in Texas with a job that is based elsewhere, possible with technology.  Being a longtime lover of technology, I am mindful of that fact that it can be a double edge sword.  There are many moments of looking forward to being unplugged, care free and unchallenged for down time!  And yet having the technology keeps us moving in a direction of good things as well!  Bitter sweet I guess.

This week I had a meeting with a customer in my pjs.  I can’t tell you how awesome that is!!  A lot of work was put into that proposal and to be able to discuss it relaxed in PJs no makeup and hair a mess…priceless!  Of course, making the sale would be icing on the cake!  There are pros and cons with working from a home office.  The time management is awesome because you are not stuck in traffic.  You can work your own hours which might be late or early allowing for time to take care of things with the kids or something you just need or want to go do.   Sounds great, right?  Then there are problems.  Sometimes work issues are so bad that there have been plenty of times where I’ve said this job just isn’t worth it….and then the thought pops back in…the perks of the home office!   My next meeting might be when I’m getting my nails done…who knows??  I have actually brought my laptop and phone into the nail salon.

To work or not to work?  Just this week I’ve heard friends on both sides of the fence talk about their challenges with the decision.  Choosing is really personal. You just have to figure out how comfortable you are to live within your means and decide.  Being married and having two incomes is helpful.  It is possible to make it on one income.  However, there is still managing a home and family that needs to be done either way and that is plenty of work right there!  For me, there is a bit of an insurance policy to work in case it’s just me that has to bring in the income.  That and finding something that is enjoyable to keep interest and relevant to now.  Life happens and things can change.

Deciding on a lifestyle is key as well.  What is really necessary?  Drawing from experience I’ve lived pretty simply to know the difference.  It’s perplexing to think what do you really need?  We are so lucky here in the USA…and Texas 😉  to have the freedom to choose from so many opportunities.  You have to recognize it and find your way because there is a way.  Hopefully you are blessed with a mind that can make happiness no matter what the circumstances are.  I attribute that to faith!

As with anything there is a balance between good and bad.  The trick is to find the balance.

work

Work Life Key to Happiness?

Texas Critters-Wildlife

Around the burbs we do have critters.  Some cute some not so much.  On the cute side, we have adorable little wild brown rabbits and squirrels.  With the rabbits come birds of prey.  We see lots of hawks.  I’ve always been told they are chicken hawks.  Which is kind of funny now that I think about foghorn leghorn with the chicken hawk cartoon and Texas.

Some of my favorite wildlife around the neighborhood are the birds.  The herons are beautiful!  I’ve seen a beautiful owl and hear them on occasion.  And during the day we have mocking birds, blue jays, cardinals, sparrows and robins.  Then during spring there are lots and lots of doves.  They build really bad nests and they are just everywhere cooing.  And every year a poor little one falls out of its nest in our yard.  I’ve put many back into their nest risking life and limb…I need to stop that!   The not so pretty birds are the grackles (they love junk food) so maybe that explains it.

Every year around spring we are visited by baby snakes.  I believe they are copper heads.  Some are so small that they almost look like worms, but you can tell they are not by the way they move.  Every year one crosses my path and I end up eradicating it out of fear for my life.  (the ones I see are about a foot long and skinny)…so you can imagine the fear.  I’ve seen quite a few different kinds of snakes here.  Most of them non poisonous.  I’ve had a garter snake swim in the pool.  And a brown snake that was sad about losing his home in my palm tree.  He really wanted nothing to do with me and wouldn’t even make eye contact.

If you go a little outside of the suburbs then you see deer, skunks, raccoons, armadillos and possums.  And there are some state parks nearby here that have swampy ponds with alligators in them.  Brazos Bend is one of my favorites!  They have an observatory there as well which is kind of unique!  It’s fun to camp because you see some of the more rural critters.  And they are hilarious.  Especially raccoons.  We had one thief get into a cooler and take the eggs.

There are also places to see bats. So this week I went to Montrose at Sunset to watch the Mexican free tailed bat colony emerge from the Waugh bridge.  Why not?  It’s pretty amazing.  Apparently the little critters eat lots of bugs.  So yay bats!  There are 250,000 of these guys that live under the bridge.  I read up on viewing these guys.  So they come out just after sunset, they exit the east side of the bridge.  They may not come out on cold or rainy nights.  It was 70 degrees and perfect!

bats

I see these little bunnies all over the tennis courts in the evening.  They are not shy!  I see them while jogging too in the evening.

bunny

and the herons…absolutely beautiful birds.  We have some great wildlife.  Next time you go outside, look for them!  They are pretty special!

heron

Texas Critters-Wildlife

Valentines

This Valentines day I’m really thankful for all of my loves!  The tradition of going out to eat and receiving flowers is well appreciated!  For me, I am grateful for a great dinner out and I absolutely love flowers.  It is not necessary every year.   So this year it’s dinner in for us.  I treated my child with a heart shaped pizza!   It’s Pizza Hut!  It comes uncut with a thin crust and whatever toppings you order on it.  My other child is dating.  They plan to go to a fancy dinner.  I explained that Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you have to go out, it’s nice too, and there are many other ways to celebrate love other than going out. My concern is for the boy to spend money he doesn’t have.  Not something I can control of course.  I can only suggest that genuine gestures are the ones that mean a lot even if they aren’t particularly fancy…I think the heart shape pizza is adorable!  For the rest of us, dinner tonight will be home cooked!  Steak, baked potato and asparagus.  Yum!  I splurged on a great cut of steak.

pizza

Today was spent thoughtfully on putting together a gift for my husband’s birthday.  I say that, however I do believe there is some self seeking involved (in that I didn’t want to pay an electrician).  Still, maybe that’s ok? I wired two switches that can be controlled through the internet.  They are voice activated with the Amazon Echo option and you can turn them on regularly as well.  It took about 6 hours.   Dedication is key and it pays off!   If you have free time anyway, why not be a do-it-yourselfer?  I’m guessing we saved about $300 by doing the electrical work.  (Part of his gift is for me to install it!)  And the money saved will be to pay for a trip to Fredericksburg for our anniversary next month.   Half the fun of a trip is planning and looking forward to it!  We are fortunate to have a friend that is practically an electrician!  What a gift to give…knowledge!  I hope to be more on the giving end of that as I get older.

Can’t wait to blog about Fredericksburg.  It’s a little town in the Hill Country…that is in central Texas.  The terrain changes there and you have more of the rolling hills and it is absolutely beautiful.  The town itself was settled originally by Germans.  So it’s like a step into Germany.  In March, there should be bluebonnets out.  The bluebonnets are wildflowers and are special to Texas.  Usually in the spring when you travel on the freeway between cities, there are tons of people that stop and take pictures in the bluebonnets. Everybody does it!!!!  So I will be sure to take some pics.  Besides shopping and visiting Texas wineries (which I’m anxious to try…Messina Hof, I wouldn’t think wine is too good in Texas given the heat, but who knows, it sounds cool)…there is also the enchanted rock.   So the story goes the Tonkawa indians were the first to believe the area is enchanted (the rock especially…it’s a big rock, like one you can climb). Apparently there are some different stories.  So, the plan is to go there and find our own story!  I think the magic will be in getting my husband to climb to the summit…426 feet in .6 miles.  That shouldn’t be terrible 🙂

wemo1

wemo

 

Valentines

Why Pilates

I can’t remember the exact reason I wanted to explore Pilates 5 years ago, but I hit the jackpot on my first try with a studio.  Instant love!  To be fair, I don’t have any other studio to compare to because I have been going to the same studio since I started.  I have heard that YMCAs have pilates available and that it isn’t the same.  I can imagine.  In the past I was a member of the Y and associate going there with a sweaty gym experience and that is really not appealing to me.

The studio I go to is amazing.  When you walk in, you are instantly welcomed with refreshing scents!  They use oil diffusers that are not over burdening. (I am really sensitive to smell).  They dim the lights, play appropriate music (which varies depending on where you are in your work out) and the décor is awesome, very Buddha chic.  LOL I just made that up.  I don’t know Buddha just kind of makes you think of being present and centered. They also have personal fans and keep the environment comfortable.  The instructors are very well educated.  They work with a small class of 10 max to ensure that you move the correct way preventing injury.  This is so important!  How many times have you experienced working out and hurting something?  I’m not talking about soreness because you haven’t exercised in a while.  I mean working repetitively in the wrong position causing injury and pain.  For some that have pre-existing injuries, the instructor will modify the exercise specifically for that person.  All classes are reserved in advance so you are guaranteed your spot.

You will never be bored with Pilates.  Especially at a studio like the one I go to.  Let’s see if I can name the different activities they have there. The reformer, the chair, the tower, floor work, big ball, smaller ball, medicine ball, dowel, bosu, short box/long box, TRX, magic ring, bands, weights, circuit, jump board, body blade and endless options of positions on the equipment or floor.  Working on your flexibility and all muscle groups helps your posture and I believe protects your muscles that you may over use.  I definitely feel great and really look forward to class. It has made a difference on my muscle tone giving me a leaner appearance.   I’m much more aware of my movement now even outside of class.   With the encouragement to focus on the movement, you achieve more out of the exercise because you actually work harder.  They describe with words in great detail what you are to be feeling or how to be positioned.  And breath is a really important part of the movement as well.  This is another opportunity to tune out the stressful part of your day and really be present for class so that you can get the most out of it.

Pilates is good for strength training for your body, it feels good, gives you a sense of connection with your muscles in your body, it gives you the opportunity to tone and look leaner and there is always variation to look forward to.

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jumpboard

tower

Why Pilates

Mardi Gras Super Bowl

February 9th is Fat Tuesday!  In Galveston, there are Mardi Gras celebrations…why?  I really don’t know other than we are neighbors with Louisiana.  One of these days I will go check it out Mardi Gras in Galveston.  This year there is no time!  I understand why Louisiana-New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras because they were settled by the French.  Mardi Gras is a French Catholic celebration.  It’s the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  I have always known Mardi Gras as a big party.  Music, parades and people drinking and eating.  So it’s party hard before a period of fasting and being really good 😉  I have gone to Rio for “Carnival”, but never to New Orleans during Mardi Gras.  There are celebrations in the Caribbean Islands as well.  Typically locals tell me they stay away from it, that after years of it, it gets to be too much.  It is fun to see the dancing and vibrant costumes.

This year I plan to have a Mardi Gras theme for super bowl.   And of course that means over doing the food and making it Cajun style.  I’m ok with a party of 4.  The kids might have some people over and that would be great!  I don’t think any of us are really excited in particular about this football game.  However, it is tradition and it’s a good excuse to get together and eat!

I consulted Pinterest for a good gumbo recipe and scored!  I will have that cooking in the crockpot all day.  I am going to fry shrimp that can be put on French bread to make po-boys.  We are having spicy crackers with cheese and andouille sausage, jalapeno poppers (that’s just my Texas addition to it) and king cake!  I have never had king cake and think it’s interesting that if you get the piece that has the baby figure inside it symbolizes luck and prosperity. Before they had the little plastic babies they used beans, which seems safer!

I will look for some purple, green and gold plates and will have some beads to wear.  To drink, we will have some mock tail hurricanes.  I think it will be fun!

The gumbo is in the slow cooker and I still have 5 lbs of shrimp to peel and I need to go get the plates.  We are going to do commercial bingo (a tip a friend of mine gave me) and I need to go get some prizes.  I think for this group a gift card to a fast food place will be good.

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super1

I love going to the grocery store HEB.  My daughter spied the cake hiding in the basket when I texted her back this picture as an answer to “what are you doing?”.  She wants a king cake from a bakery.  I am no connoisseur of king cakes, this one from the HEB bakery will have to do.  I think the HEB bakery is really good.  They have all sorts of baked goods. I never knew there was a variety of filling options for king cake.  We got cream cheese and pineapple.  Cinnamon and pecan praline I would think are the more traditional. They also have other fruit fillings.

super2

So a little on the details…the hurricane is equal parts (shot) of pineapple juice, orange juice, a squeeze of lime, a splash of agave nectar, all shaken (you can add a shot of rum). Then you pour a splash of grenadine on top and you get the really cool blend of colors. The grenadine sinks to the bottom.

 

 

 

Mardi Gras Super Bowl