Easter

Happy Easter!  In our Texan suburban neighborhood, you don’t have to go far to find Easter services.  We have 6 churches in our subdivision!   You can choose from small churches to larger ones, traditional to contemporary.   Churches can also be in shopping plazas around here and I’ve even seen them held at the school!  It shouldn’t be hard to find a good fit.  Although, I still haven’t found a church home.  You can still have a really good spiritual connection without going to church.   The churches in our community provide community service as well, cub scout ceremonies,  day care (for mom to get a few things done), and a place to meet for people recovering from addiction, just to name a few!   I am so grateful for the church!

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This is a special day to celebrate indeed!  Another great gift God gave us is family! Most Easter services were over by around noon today so that people can spend time with their families.  Many businesses were closed, however there were a few stores open and restaurants.  At the grocery store you could see people wearing their Easter Sunday best!

We celebrated Easter together and went out for brunch. So glad this idea came from my daughter!   Why is it that family celebrations and food go together so well?  It was really nice because with everyone’s busy schedule, we had the opportunity to talk about plans and ideas of the future.  It was really nice that everyone was present at the table (no phone checking :))

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The place we went to had all kinds of things, eggs benedict, unique omelets, waffles, pancakes, and home made biscuits!   In order to get a variety, you do have to travel more towards the city.  It’s totally worth it!  We actually ate two meals together today, dinner was at home.  On the menu, ham and asparagus bow tie pasta and home made carrot cake cupcakes.  Pinterest has so many really cute ideas.  I really wanted to put together a decorative table which sadly did not work out, but it was still nice to have everyone together!

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It was a really beautiful day outside!  A few people have Easter decorations in their yard. This one is really special, they haven’t mowed and have a bunch of wildflowers (butter cups)!

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I feel very blessed and never mean to take things for granted.  Life is challenging and worth the challenge.  Without God, life would be impossible.  ❤

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Easter

Weekend Getaway

 

I’ve always wanted to visit Fredericksburg, Texas.  There have been a few failed plan attempts and then my wedding anniversary came up.  What a perfect place to celebrate!  On the agenda, wine tasting, outdoor hiking, dinner plans, exploring shops, visiting the pacific war museum and staying at one of those quaint bed and breakfasts.

Fredericksburg is an old German settlement, so I pictured stepping into Europe here in Texas. It’s not quite that.  For sure there are German influences, names of places, the food, and maybe some living styles.  However, it’s definitely an old Texas town settlement.  In fact, there are structures that date back to the pioneer days and there is even a pioneer museum.

On the way into town we stopped at a vineyard and then onto the cutest bed and breakfast ever!!! Sugarberry Inn is newer and it is a series of small individual structures that are arguably Texas style architecture.  There were rocking chairs on the porch and the room had a big king size bed with an Iron frame.  The ceilings were 12 feet high with 8 windows that streamed in so much light!  The bottom part of the windows had wood shutters and the floor was stained concrete.  And there was a stone fireplace.  The bathroom was huge and included a jetted tub and large rain shower.  We didn’t think it would be necessary to use the gas fire place, however it turned cold and it was so nice to have it on.  Just flip the switch and even though the fire is behind glass, it heated up the room to a comfortable temperature.  There was an outdoor fire place too where guests can enjoy getting together and they even had heat lamps.

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The plan was for our anniversary dinner at Vaudeville which required a reservation.  A friend asked me is Vaudeville a show?  I looked up the word and indeed it was a popular type of show in the 1920s, I can say that the show is the food!  The menu is preset, and the chef constructed 5 courses that were amazing to me.  Why so intriguing?  Because we had to ask how did the chef do that?  They had a dish in this pear shape container that you opened and a puff of smoke came out and inside was a smoked fish.  They fried an entire soft shell crab and it was on a bed of noodles (you eat the whole crab, I guess shell and all).  And the lamb was in these individual cylinder shapes that were rolled.  And finally desert, filo dough with brownie, cream and strawberries and pears.  They had to use PVC pipe to bake the dough and then everything was inside (I asked how they got the shape). The chef had an Italian heritage and lived in Louisiana and is 35 years old!  It was a pricey (worth it) and fun experience!  The building is really old and they have a home goods store and bistro as well.

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Within walking distance is Main Street and the National Museum of the Pacific War.  The museum is a really good one and being that it is in an off the beaten path town, it makes you wonder why is it here of all places?  It’s because Admiral Chester Nimitz is from Fredericksburg and he was a major leader in the military during World War II.  What a fantastic place… my husband really enjoyed it!  There is SO much information that we took it in pieces, you can come and go over a 2 day period without repaying the $14/per adult and you can see much of the memorial outside for free.

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On the next day, we started out with the breakfast that the owners provided in the cellar part of the facilities.  The owners Joe and his wife are super friendly and genuinely care about their guests comfort.   We shared stories about our stay and they shared stories about their place.  We scooted off to Enchanted Rock (detailed in another post).

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We spent the rest of the time checking out the many shops that line Main Street and could have gone deeper into shopping at “Trade Days” which happens once a month a little further away.  We didn’t see it all, however the shops we did see were great!  There were clothing stores, food stores, general stores, furnishing stores and of course wine tasting places.

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The final night we wanted to try German food so we went to this place called the Ratheskeller.  It’s a restaurant that is in the basement of a store on Main Street.  There was a lady playing the harp and she was really talented.  She played anything from Stairway to Heaven, Oh! Danny Boy and popular songs that are on the radio.   We enjoyed the German food and had a great time together!

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Weekend Getaway

Enchanted Rock

What and where is Enchanted Rock?  It is a natural preserve state park in central Texas just about 20 minutes outside of Fredericksburg.  The rock itself is made of granite (pinkish) and supposedly the Tonkawa Indian’s believed it to be enchanted by a Spanish Conquistador that was captured by the Indians and escaped by casting a spell…at least that is one story.  It’s 425 feet high and it’s a half mile hike up the rock.   So I came here to find my own enchantment and was not disappointed.

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We came here to enjoy the views of the hill country and to see some wildflowers…especially blue bonnets.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous the day before and turned windy and cold (in the 40s).  It should be obvious when planning a trip to be sure to check the weather.  However, since it’s March and has been nice, I didn’t think to even look! Thankfully a quick stop to Walmart for some sweat pants was exactly the type of gear needed to climb to the summit!   People warned us that there would be LOTs of people there and a big line to get into the park if you didn’t leave super early.  Maybe it was the weather, but thankfully we did not have that issue.  There were campers in tents in the parking area.  What a cool idea to camp out here.  Supposedly the rock makes creaking sounds at night and at the top you can see ghost fires.

So setting a personal goal to make this journey to the top is in itself easier said than done! There were kids with their families climbing, young couples, and a few older people.  This was not an easy feat for some.

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Taking the pic above at this point you are leaning at about a 45 degree angle to keep standing up “straight”.  Plenty of people stop and take in the views…

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There is a place at the top where you can go into a cave.  I wasn’t going to push my luck here…just happy that we were at the top!  Although I would love to come back and take the loop tour and climb the rock on the backside.  I’ve heard it’s a little more challenging and would be fun to do!

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Here is quintessential beautiful Texas …

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And we found some blue bonnets…never too old to have your pic taken in them.

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On the drive there were patches of blue bonnets along the road, it makes the drive so pretty.  Nothing says Texas like a patch of blue bonnets, the wild flower that only comes out for a few weeks in the spring.  It was $7 per person for 13 and up.  Senior citizens and the disabled get 50% off and they allowed dogs …didn’t see any climbing 😉  Relatively speaking it’s pretty inexpensive to enjoy some of the most spectacular gifts from God! It’s so pleasing to the sense of sight and to reconnect with the most important people in your life. And for the small fee the park is kept nice for many to enjoy!

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Enchanted Rock

Texas Wine

One thing about Texans (especially women) is their love for wine!  You wouldn’t think with the weather the conditions would be favorable to grow grapes. It gets super hot in the summer and we have droughts.   However, indeed there is a wine industry here.  Guessing from the conditions, Texas wine isn’t all that popular.  But is it any good? Surprisingly, yes…and there is a twist!  The Texas wines sold in the stores in big cities are mass produced and frankly aren’t good in my opinion.  I am certainly no wine connoisseur.  Usually any table wine will do for me…pour me a glass!  However, getting some exposure to some different wines has changed that a little.  So the way to get good Texas wine is to actually visit the vineyard or to join their wine club and have it shipped to your home.

In central Texas just outside the town of Fredericksburg are many wineries.  This is nothing like California wineries, let’s be clear!   It’s kind of shocking that they are right there on the side of the road!  Some have nicer grounds, some look like a shack.

We visited Messina Hoff because I’ve actually tasted it (the local store version).   And I was told Messina Hoff has better wines that they don’t sell in stores.  They just can’t make enough to mass produce, but the reserves are very good.  The original Messina Hoff was a labor of love from the Bonarrigo family that came from Italian and German backgrounds.  Their original and main vineyard was started in the ’70s and is in Bryan Texas.  The one outside of Fredericksburg is in a really nice building.  We stopped in for a wine tasting.  They have reds, whites and sweet wines.  The grapes grown on the side of the road are a black Spanish grape “Lenoir” and it makes a super sweet port.

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Because I didn’t want to drag my husband into too many wineries, we just went to one other wine tasting in town on Main Street.  (like I said there are MANY).  The other one was Grape Creek. And it was just picked on a whim.  The wine at Grape Creek was better!  Every one of the wines I tasted were excellent and some have actually won awards.  You can see this vineyard on the way into Fredericksburg,  I believe they have a nicer tasting area with a restaurant and then the main growing area which is a very large steel structure you can easily see from the road. You can take a wine tour and hop on a shuttle that will take you to different wineries and runs every twenty minutes.

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Wine tasting at these places is so laid back and not pretentious. We mainly saw couples, however quite easily this would be a great outing for girls getting together!  The people are so friendly!  Strangers will engage in friendly chit chat as you taste wine in a comfortable setting!  Wine tastings are about $15 for four or five pours of about one ounce and the bottles ranged anywhere on average between $20 and $35 to purchase. AWESOMENESS!!!  ❤

Texas Wine

Azalea Trail

Every year for about a week period in Houston the River Oaks Garden club sponsors the Azalea Trail.  It’s a series of 7 sites, mainly houses and a church, with very well manicured grounds that hold the most amazing display of azaleas.  I went with a good friend who really appreciates the wonder of the garden and these spectacular beauties!   We chose to go to Bayou Bend which is the home of the late Ima Hogg, a Philanthropist (died at 93 in 1975).  She was the daughter of the first native born Texas Governor (1890).  The family’s wealth was the result of the oil industry.  She deeded her home, Bayou Bend estate, to the Museum of Fine Arts in 1957.

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What a spectacular entrance to the property… a swinging bridge over Buffalo Bayou!

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As you walk through the property you are mesmerized by the vibrant color on display.  We were able to pass through the bottom floor of the house and viewed two parlors and the dining room.  The history of American furniture in the house is fascinating.  Ima took great interest in pieces with history and roots native to the area.  I’ll bet if you look on the bottom of the plates there are no made in China labels here!  The craftsmanship is quite exquisite. You can’t help but appreciate that!

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There are volunteers through the property that will give you information and answer questions that you have.  The volunteers were mainly very nice looking older ladies dressed in pretty spring dresses.  We did ask how many gardeners are staffed at Bayou Bend.  The answer we received was 5, which I find incredible.  Because there are fourteen acres of land here to maintain.  The River Oaks garden club volunteer weeding on Monday’s (there are about 25 of them in this particular volunteer stage of the club).  This one volunteer was so cute, she asked if we were offended by some of the weeds that were still showing in the landscaping around the water fountain?  I found this particularly amusing.  I guess it’s worth while to say the people in River Oaks are pretty well to do.  The lady that was telling me this was wearing Prada sun glasses….offended? NO!  I’m amazed by how they can possibly keep this many weeds out!   There is full appreciation here!  The weeding never stops at my house!  EVER!

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This is Diana Garden which is in direct display from the back of the house where we met the Prada sun glass volunteer lady.  We also asked how much they charge to rent the space for an event on the lawn right in front of this fountain.  And she said in excess of $50,000…cha ching! Guess we won’t be having any family gatherings here…nope!

Here are a couple of other points of interest…

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This is Carla Garden (did I mention there are 9 gardens on the grounds?).  Ima wanted to add something whimsical to this garden so she used a carousel piece!  It’s only brought out and displayed for the Azalea Trail and it has recently been restored!

As you continue to walk down the path you can’t help but notice the humongous tree!  I was told it is a Sycamore tree.  The oldest one in Harris county!  They even have a rod all of the way to the top and bolted into the ground to protect the tree from lighting!

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So there you have it!  Bayou Bend during the azalea trail!  I’m so thankful my good friend went with me and suggested this site!  I learned so much from her and it is fascinating! There are other flowering species here too.. Camellias!  We took turns taking a pic in them!  Only regret… that we didn’t get a pic together!  Thank you Paula for a very enjoyable adventure!  You are such a great friend!

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Azalea Trail

Rodeo Houston – Urban Cowboys

I don’t even know where to start !!!  Took my son with his friends to the Houston rodeo and had an amazing adventure .  The rodeo is held at NRG Stadium, home of the Texans!

Not sure how I managed to hit the entrance with the wine garden!  They have good cheap wine …4 bucks!  That and a really good band is a great way to start off your night!! It’s really pleasant outside and enjoyable to watch the two steppers and to check out the rodeo fashion!! Couples dancing, young and old, even women dancing with women, and kids too.

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The band really seemed to enjoy what they do !! And they were awesome!  It was packed but not too packed!   The people are so friendly . I’m by myself and strangers greet you with a smile and engage in small talk in such a comfortable in your blue jeans approach .
For my ten dollar entrance (plus $15 for parking) my agenda included checking out the food, the shopping, see an event and perusing the livestock.   No problem for 3 and 1/2 hours!

Rodeo food is very interesting to say the least!  First of all, there are so many options.  The rodeo is only here for about a month, yet there are elaborate restaurant facades.  Maybe it stays up for football?  I don’t know, but they had everything except for diet food!  And you have to check it all out before deciding!  Since the chili cookoff is a really big deal before the rodeo starts, I was hunting for chili. However, the food sold during the rodeo should not be confused with the chili cook off …side note!

Some of the most interesting things there are fried cheese cake, fried cookie dough (rolled in bacon ‘course), fried oreos, strawberry waffle balls, french fry loaf and gator just to name a few.  They had BBQ, Mexican food and Cajun food as well as every kind of carnival food.  Oh yeah, there is a huge carnival as part of the entertainment that is where the kids went.

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On with the shopping!  There is tons of it!  They have clothing (including boots of course), furniture (Texas style), jewelry, food items like salsas and candies … just to name a few.  A reoccurring theme was the sale of hot tubs…apparently every Texan needs one.  I saw tee-pees, hand crafted figurines, rugs, and art work (paintings and prints).   There are many chunky rock type pieces of jewelry and they are not cheap!  I just browsed and noticed the price tag on one that was $395!  Have you ever seen livestock jewelry?  Well they have it here!..

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I ended up purchasing my jewelry online for $10, it’s a Houston Rodeo logo rhinestone pin that can also be worn as a pendant.  The logo is cute, its an H that has a cowboy hat and the bottom of the H curves and wears boots.  Just too cute!  You can see a picture of the logo in the next photo.

Next, the main event.  Hoping to see calf roping or bull riding (apparently in a different building), instead was something unexpected.  The championship police dog take down! In this event a man stands in the arena in a heavily padded suit.  He waves and jumps around and they unleash a police dog who is timed for speed and his take down.  The champion dog ran at 35 mph.  Wow!

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To round up the night was a visit through the livestock display.  There were cows, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, donkeys, (alpacas …someone said, but I didn’t see them) and bunnies!  This fine specimen is pretty cool. He’s a Texas longhorn and his coloring is so beautiful.  The University of Texas has a longhorn mascot, BEVO, and he is more orange and white I guess, but I’ve seen orange, white and black on some of the school’s apparel.  This guys coat is pretty nice.  So there you have it!  A great time was had by all!

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Rodeo Houston – Urban Cowboys