Summer turns me upside down…in Texas

Summer officially begins June 20th according to the solstice dates, but that is not how people in Texas determine the start of summer.  The start of summer is recognized here by school ending, the community pools opening, the weather turning warm and humid and for me…the crepe myrtles blooming (my favorite summer tree).  Summer is here! And summer is long!  It stays hot all of the way  through the end of September, but somewhere around then you feel the change to fall.  You just won’t see the leaves change until December.

Now to hit the things to do that are perfect for summer in Texas!  So what does one do in Texas during the summer?  For sure you need to hit a body of water.  Being the water lover that I am, I am a bit of a connoisseur of water activities in Texas.  There is always room to expand the knowledge!  The beaches, while abundant are not my first choice.  Galveston our little island, has plenty to do, however if you are from Florida, you tend to be spoiled by clear water and that is not what we have here ….anywhere from Galveston, to Port Aransas, to South Padre.   These are all really popular places to go to the beach and are fun, just if you really, really like being in the water, you might want to be able to see your toes and open your eyes under water and you can’t do that here.    Some of the lakes are kind of the same thing, murky but not all lakes in Texas!!!  Austin has some of the most amazing places for water activities.  Barton Springs is a clear spring and SUPER cold!  Like 68-70 degrees year round!  Ok, for me that is cold, water temperature to me needs to be like bath water.  Tubing is really fun also.  Places like the Comal River or the Guadeloupe River between San Antonio and Austin are a must!!   It’s super relaxing to float peacefully down the river on a hot summer day in clear water!   And a stop by the town of Gruene is a must too.  It’s one of my favorite Texas towns.  The Grist Mill restaurant in Gruene is perched on a hill overlooking the Comal River and the tubers.  It’s amazing in the summer and the winter.  It’s so open that you are either really hot or really cold.  So it’s fans or the big Texas fireplace to help balance the temperature.  And their steak is nothing short of awesomeness.

So I booked my July reservations for Hamilton Pool and Jacobs Well (It’s by reservation only now) near Austin.  Both are in state parks and are natural clear water bodies.  Both are similar, Hamilton Pool is described as “A scenic natural swimming pool in a canyon below a 50-ft waterfall, surrounded by a grotto”.  Oh heck yeah, need to go there!  It’s hard to get commitment from others, I just booked it anyway. (If you book it they will go? … we’ll see)

Tubing down the Comal River…

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Port A…

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Can’t wait to share new adventures of places to go in Texas!

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Summer turns me upside down…in Texas

Take me out to the ballgame !

Isn’t baseball the all American sport ?  Childhood memories of playing the sport even as a girl still are fond for me .  I never imagined how popular baseball is in Texas ! My son has many years of YMCA baseball under his belt .  He really enjoyed it !  To even be considered for the high school team you would either have to be naturally gifted with talent or play club ball (more serious than ymca).  My son took his interest to following major league . For that reason we go to the park on occasion . The Astros play at a super nice park, Minute Maid Park.  The roof retracts and on Friday nights they have fireworks after the game .    They have lots of food choices and even a restaurant at the stadium .

We have tried seats in different sections throughout the stadium and I like the ones best between home and first base or just past first base.    At least with baseball it’s a little more affordable to go to a game.   You can get inexpensive seats ($4 to $450), or pay more for better seats, still way cheaper than football if you ask me.  (I don’t know how anyone affords that)  This time we sat in the outfield, on a perfect evening.  Most of the time the roof is closed because it is too hot, but the weather is just too good right now.

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They have a really nice big screen so you can see up close even if you are sitting far away from the play.  Sure it’s nice to stay at home and watch the game, but every once in a while you ought to experience the game live and see some of the perspective the TV cameras don’t show.  There is the opportunity to catch a foul ball and mingle with the many fans.  There are lots of different fans from families to co-workers, people of all ages.

Minute Maid park can hold up to a little over 40,000 people.  The game wasn’t sold out but there were still a lot of people here.    It’s amazing, I don’t know where these people park.  The parking lot adjacent to the stadium can’t hold that many people.  I always park in a parking garage.  I just can’t believe there is enough parking around the stadium to accommodate us.  We normally walk no more than 1/4 of a mile to the park.

Whenever an Astro player is up to bat, they play the player’s song.  And if they get a home run or a run batted in, then there is a train near and high above left field that toots it’s horn and travels about a few hundred feet (the train is complete with a real live conductor!).  I always thought this was weird.  It’s a train and the coal car is full of oranges.  Oh well, Minute Maid is headquartered in Houston.  In the seventh inning we always stand up and sing “Deep in the Heart of Texas”, I think that’s cool.  They display the lyrics for you just in case!    Even though we lost this time, it’s still a lot of fun and a great way to spend a Friday night!  And I’m happy to do something with my son that we both enjoy!

The fireworks on Friday nights after the game are pretty cool too!  It’s about a 15 minute show with music.  Spectacular!

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Take me out to the ballgame !

Party Get your Grill On

New businesses that pop up in suburbia never cease to amaze me.  They go like this, you get an invitation from a friend for a party.  I have been to Pampered Chef (cookware) and Thirty One (totes and bags) to name a few.  The party is a get together with friends with the goal of selling something for whomever convinced the friend to host the party.  And usually there is a benefit to the hostess in the form of free or a reduction in price of product.  This week I went to a Wild Tree party.  The idea is that you will have 10 meals for the family pre-prepped and ready to cook.  Most parties I go to do not have a commitment to buy anything.  This one has a pretty steep price just to go ($80) and what you get for that is six seasoning/sauces/oils and the recipe instructions.  I think that is pretty steep.  I’m game to try something new.    I’m a bit of a short order cook and I tend to go to the grocery store every day with no idea usually what I’m making for dinner.  So the thought that I can actually prepare ahead of time and have everything ready to go sounded appealing.  Of course if you have picky eaters, then a preset meal plan by someone else may pose a problem.  For me I don’t care.  It’s food right?  And it’s not like I’m trying to make it terrible.  Hey maybe the family will actually like to try some different things.  Most of the dishes sound pretty normal.

Beef, chicken, ribs, shrimp and fish.  I think my family can at least try it.  And if they don’t like it, there is always cereal.   So if it’s a big hit, I don’t know what I will do for an encore!

The prep work was pretty tough for someone who goes to the grocery store every day buying small amounts.  (I could so be European in this respect so I have heard).  I actually went to the store 3 times to get all of the necessary ingredients which were mainly meat and some vegetables.  Then I had to cut them and put them in bags to take to the party.  That was easily an hour.  Once there, we added spices/sauces and or oils and slapped a sticker to it.   That took a couple of hours.   I took it home and put it in the freezer.  Then I will take them out a day in advance and cook.  So I like the fact that there is no question to what is for dinner and everybody gets the same thing.  So yippee…nice to step outside of the box and try something new.

I hope the money spent is worth it.  I probably spent a couple of hundred dollars on the food, and for two weeks that is probably not bad.  Adding the additional $80 then eh, I don’t know.  There is so much meat for meals for my family I think I can even stretch it out a little further (maybe double).  Now that everything is in the freezer in individual bags that might be harder.  I’m happy to have this problem, believe me.

Wild Tree has a website and a catalog.  And the lady who was running the party made some appetizers with some of the stuff from the catalog so that you could try it.  There were mainly dips, and I really loved these avocado “fries”.   Their ingredients are all organic.  It’s not that I really care about that.  I try to pick foods that are identifiable which I think is good and then I make the assumption that crops probably need some kind of treatment to keep bugs off them and animals need to be healthy.  I’m really hoping that the treatments for both of these issues are safe for humans.  I tend to eat more fish than any other meat.

Anyway, we have a nice grill and I can’t wait to have a reason to use it.  It’s a nice way to take care of the fam!  ❤

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Party Get your Grill On

Cyclist-Road Warrior

It’s not surprising to know that Texas is great for cycling, especially around Houston because it is so flat!  One of the biggest cycling events is the MS150 between Houston and Austin.  When I first moved here I was into cycling and I thought, I want to do the MS150!  What a daunting feat!  Now I have been here for a while and am probably in better condition older than I was then.  So don’t ever think age can hold you back.  I think I might want to do the MS150 next year.  We will see!

I haven’t been cycling for quite a while.  This week I decided to try out my bike to start training for the triathlon in September.  Good thing too because I have some challenges!  I have a really old Cannondale mountain bike which is special to me because it is made out of aluminum and is super light weight, that is what I love about it.  I keep struggling with the tire inner tube and took it to Tri-Sports.  They adjusted the tube and filled it with air and warned me that the tires probably need to be changed because they are starting to dry rot (I have had this bike forever).  They are going to get back to me on whether or not I can have road tires on that bike.  Anyway, sure enough as I found my way to my favorite subdivision (the one with the recreational lake) my tube blew through the tire and then quickly popped and I had a flat.  Another issue is that my brakes hit the frame and are not aligned.  A mountain bike is probably not the best choice for a race.  (Not that I’m really thinking I’m going to win my age group).  When I went to this shop I noticed they sell road bikes.  I saw a Fuji bike that is a light weight road bike that wouldn’t break the bank and now I’m really curious if I should spend the money for a good bike for this upcoming race and commit to the MS150.

I also wanted to try out a Mother’s day gift with cycling.  I got a Polar fitness wearable.  And have found some interesting things with it.  First of all, not all exercise is the same (Of course!!!)  I do Pilates, jogging and tennis regularly.  I highly suggest everyone find some fitness activity that they enjoy …it is essential!!  Not only for the physical benefits, but for mental as well.  So for me, tennis is the one activity that I absolutely love.  It just doesn’t feel like exercise, yet I’ve noticed, with proof of the wearable, that it is the most beneficial exercise I do.  You get in the anaerobic zone because you are constantly sprinting then stop then sprint again.  I tracked exercising with Pilates, bike riding, running and tennis and found I can burn:

600 calories easily in 1.5 hours with tennis

200 calories with Pilates in 1 hour

330 calories in 40 minutes of bike riding

200 calories 30 minutes of jogging

The other thing to note is that your heart rate with tennis goes higher than it does with any of the other activities.  Did I mention tennis is my favorite??

I have yet to try the measurement on the tracker with swimming, which I really wanted to do this week, just didn’t have time.

So I’m trying to convince hubby that a new bike is NECESSARY!!!  And he can ride it with me if he wants to try cycling…LOL!  I think we still need a mountain bike which can work on the road.  I would continue to ride the mountain bike if he would at least try cycling with a good new road bike.  When I went to the crawfish tournament in Louisiana at the hotel there was a cycling group staying there.  They would ride about 60 miles a day.  I noticed that there were older people (couples) participating.  How cool is that?  The couple I talked to was from Missouri.  They are retired and spend time traveling to different places and ride bikes.  Yeah!

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Cyclist-Road Warrior

Texas Mommas

Are Texas momma’s any different than others?  Hmmmm I don’t know about that.  I will say that you may see some differences of culture even in the USA from state to state.  What can I say about Texas mommas??  Well, they are feisty.  Seriously, what momma is not feisty?  I am lucky to know many Texas momma’s.  If you have ever watched the TV show Big Bang Theory and know the character Sheldon’s mom, they are spot on.  There are a lot of Christian mom’s here.  Of course, there is a huge diversity of culture and religion in Houston and Texas for that matter.

Being a mom is rewarding and challenging.  My children have taught me much about life and I am thankful for the lesson.  I remember praying not to get pregnant (waiting for the right time) then to get pregnant (when I felt the time was right) and then to have healthy children.  I promised that I will do my very best to be the best mom I can be.  I delivered!  Was I the best at it?  Heck no!!!  Did I make mistakes?  Heck yes!!!!  One thing  you can’t fault is your love for your children.  Even if they are going through a hard time or behave badly.  Unconditional love is something that God gives you.  I embrace this concept as a parent.  You have to let go of control and expectations.  Your children are God’s and he has a plan for them. The hardships they go through is not something for you to fix and it is so hard to learn that.  I just pray that I will continue to have a spot in their life and a relationship.

My oldest daughter taught me much about this idea.  So even if your children go through a tough situation that seems to be dire, there may be a lesson learned out of it.  That was the case for me. And as horrible as it may be when  you are going through it, if you focus on what you can control, your reaction and seek your goal (for me communication or a relationship) you will  find a way to make that work.  That becomes the goal.

You can let insignificant things bother you, like your child going to get a tattoo.  Oh my goodness, I was so against this.  And then someone made an impression on me that made me rethink this.  I am so grateful to let this go.  Whatever my children do, whether or not it is something I would do doesn’t matter.  What matters is my love for them.  I learned that the hardest way.

So on this Mother’s Day, I will say that if you are a mother, you were blessed with a child! You will always be someone’s child.  Everyone is in a different place in their lives for whatever reason.  Some people are lucky to have their moms. Some people’s  mom’s are gone. Some people don’t have relationships with their mom for whatever reason. If you are lucky enough to be blessed with a child, I hope that experience will bring you joy in life as much as it has mine!   There are two people in a relationship, and although you can’t control what that relationship will be, I hope that you can find a way to make the connection work.

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Texas Mommas

Bayou City – The Tranquility and Fury of Water

There is a reason they call Houston the Bayou City.  There are lots of bayous/creeks and Buffalo Bayou goes through the heart of the city.  I’ve always been drawn to the tranquility of water.  More so the emerald green clear kind, however here muddy water will have to do!   This past week people here saw more water than they cared to, with damaged homes (in the thousands) from floods and some lives lost on flooded roads, it is a sad situation for some.  When the floods recede, nature will again be balanced. There is an appreciation for water and fear of it.

Most of the time I have an appreciation for water and want to be near it.  There is a new subdivision near me called Towne Lake.  The “lake” was developed by digging into a spring.  It’s a 300 acre recreational lake about 6-8 feet deep and murky.  We considered living there, because you can have a boat and ski!  But I’m glad we chose not too.  It is expensive.   Still, I’ve always wanted to experience this particular recreational lake.   We have a kayak after all.  However, the lake is private.  There are still ways to experience the lake.  They built a boardwalk and it’s not even full yet.  So far they have a couple of restaurants, a coffee shop, a couple of medical facilities and a massage place.  I’m sure they will sell out the spaces and this will become a great spot for entertainment.

This past week the family went to Sam’s Boat which is a bar and grille type place selling seafood and burgers.  It’s new so the food is so so, and the atmosphere rocks!  So I suggested the girls’ get together and check it out for our monthly get together.  It’s a good excuse to dip your toes in the water.  I didn’t see any boats pulled into the slips however I’m sure in the summer there will be some.

They have a few events during the year and I signed up for the triathlon in the late summer.   I am super excited about this!  It’s on my birthday and should be fun with enough of a challenge. The “Sprint Distance” is a four hundred meter swim followed by a 12 mile bike ride and a 3 mile run.  I think I’m doing it by myself, however it’s not like you really stick with a buddy during a race.  So I will get to experience this lake for sure!  I guess my training will include biking over to the lake and riding around it.  After all, you need to train to make sure 12 miles is doable.  I plan to do the bike part on a mountain bike that I got forever ago.  It’s a Cannondale, and they don’t make them anymore.  It’s super light weight frame is made of aluminum.

We both work and I don’t know how there are so many people that can afford houses in this neighborhood.  Most of them are $500K and above.  And  in Texas, housing is pretty inexpensive when compared with the rest of the nation.  I’m really happy with where we are!  There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy water in Texas.  And I plan to blog about the very cool places in the up coming summer!

And for now, to get my kayak fix in, I will setup a trip on the Buffalo Bayou.  Bayou City Adventures has guided tours, so it’s safe an enjoyable.  Will definitely do that again.

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Bayou City – The Tranquility and Fury of Water