Cajun Crawfish Trip

This year was my second annual Crawfish Tennis tournament in Lafayette Louisiana.  It’s definitely nice to be invited to go with a group of tennis friends.  I booked a room and shared it with two others.  There was a king-size bed and a pull out couch, the only room options for the Staybridge.  I will say that this hotel is so much nicer than the Wyndam!  It was rainy and fortunately the clay/har tru courts absorb the water and you can still play on them.

We ate lunch on the way at Steam Boat Bills in Lake Charles.  It’s a “hole in the wall” place.  I don’t think the food is anything extraordinary.  I had some etouffee and a boudin ball.  A boudin ball is filled with pork with organ meat and rice, rolled up in a ball and fried.  (We don’t eat this often!!!)  Dinner was pretty cool, it was at Blue Dogs which features artwork (not originals) from a local artist, George Rodrigue, who died in 2013.  I had Pompano.  I love the fish and always try to get fish like I can in Florida. The best fish I’ve found in the gulf is drum and red fish.  I’m not really sure where they got the pompano, hopefully Florida.  It’s a good fish, not fishy-fish.

bluedog

We did play tennis, this trip is really about the party.  The food is worth mentioning because it is so different than what we usually eat.  Texas has crawfish boils, however I have never seen anything like the crawfish in Louisiana.  The crawfish are big and they are meaty.  We get about a pound of crawfish and I only eat the tails which you peel with your hands.  It tastes kind of like shrimp.  The claws are good too, they were sharp and cut my hands without a tool to crack them with.

crawfish

Our team traveled together, texted to stay in communication, ate together, etc.  While we didn’t win all of our matches we always supported each other.  I got to learn more about the people on my team.

About Lafayette…First and foremost, the people we met from Louisiana were very nice!  And I hope not to seem discriminatory with mentioning there are so many poor areas and in between road ways that are not kept up.  You can see the really rich and the really poor, not much in-between.  We drove around a lot!  It would seem there is an issue with gangs based on the signs in establishments (although we didn’t see anything like that).  Louisiana is the most alcoholic state in the USA that I have seen.  They sell alcohol everywhere, even available for drive thru pickup.  The event had beer, beer and more beer.  Not to say Texas doesn’t love alcohol.  I think the policies are different.

It was a good time for sure.  I love going.  We bring a large crowd, five teams of six plus extras.

crawfishclassic2018

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Cajun Crawfish Trip

Texas Easter

The blue bonnets are in full bloom.   We saw the most amazing sunset today passing by an enormous cross with the beautiful pastel colors in the sky.  As we were speeding down the road I couldn’t capture just how gorgeous it really was.

texassky

My husband stopped on the side of the road today between Houston and Austin as did about a million other people to take pictures in the wild flowers.  This is one thing I love about Texas.  The drive between Austin and Houston was mesmerizing looking at the wild flowers on a clear blue sky day with white puffy clouds.  I took a picture of Luna in the blue bonnets, she kept trying to eat them.

lunabluebonnets

I am so blessed to be with my family this Easter.  We had a nice lunch together to include pot roast, carrots, mashed potatoes, salad and an Easter cake for desert.  This lunch came out nice and definitely did not go as planned.  I threw out the first batch of frosting and the roast took way too long to cook…(3 hours late).  Still the end result was excellent.

easterdinner

This time next year, hopefully we will be in the new house.  Closing is now a couple of weeks away.  Yesterday I met with the design consultant.  My husband isn’t visualizing her suggestions, but I am in love with them!  We picked out a sectional and I went to the house to tape off the measurements.  I think it will fit fine.  There is an art at getting the right configuration of furniture in a room.

couch

couchlayout

We addressed the formal dining room again.  It helps to visit the space.  The chandelier has been moved so that it isn’t centered in the room.  In doing so we are going to need a smaller round table to get the chandelier in the center and have enough space between the chairs and the windows.  The 72 inch table would have been great for 8 people, that don’t live here!  The 60 inch table will fit perfectly and with 5 people, it fits our lifestyle.  I can use this room for just us and add a rectangular temporary table if we do a formal gathering.  I love this idea!  What my husband isn’t thinking is that whenever we had company over at our old house, we would try to squeeze as many people as we could around our 4 seat breakfast table.  Without a breakfast room, we are going to be using this formal dining room often!  I’m so happy to not waste this space.  This room is something I’m really looking forward to living in with family.

tab;e

Texas Easter

Next adventure

Every year I hope to be able to plan an exciting adventure.  This year I’ve been slow on plans because of the new house.  My daughter has gotten me back on the plan.  She has a big birthday this year and has missed out on vacations for the last couple of years.  She wants to go to Las Vegas, which is an interesting place to go.  Neither one of us gambles, so it is more to see the sites.  What excites me is that she is willing to go on excursions outside of the city.  The Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon south rim are the attractions on the list!  We don’t have much time, 2-days travel and 3 full days there, we need to make our plan.  We will spend 2 days in Las Vegas and one in the Grand Canyon.  It’s almost like a drive by.  I’m not exactly sure how much time my daughter would be willing to spend on the nature adventure.  I’m hoping to get a glimpse of it and come back at some point and do more if possible.

In doing research, the south rim is a 4 hour drive from Las Vegas, and the Hoover dam is on the way.  You can actually reach the west rim sky bridge in 2 hours from Las Vegas, but the main park appears to be south rim.  Why not go big or not go?  Since she is willing to let me do the planing, I’m happy to do it.  So far we have plane tickets.  For a Thursday to Monday stay, I’m thinking we will spend Friday all day in Las Vegas, then head out Saturday to the Grand Canyon, spend the night and head back Sunday and spend the rest of the day Sunday in Las Vegas.

We are looking at staying at the Venetian for the first two nights.  That is the one place I didn’t go the last time. The hotels are nice along the strip, they all charge a ridiculous $40 resort fee and are in the same price range.  It looks like there is free parking at the Venetian so we should be able to rent the car from the airport, park it at the hotel and be ready to head towards the south rim early in the morning Saturday.

The challenging part is figuring out how to visit the dam and where to stay and exactly what to see in such a short time at the south rim.  I found out the dam opens from 9AM-5PM, and that you can drive over the dam outside of those hours.  So there should be some viewpoints we have access to even if the visitor center isn’t open.

So far that I can tell there is no availability of hotels to say inside the grand canyon village.  So we are looking at staying just outside the village.  The hotels are all 2-star and the same price as the fancy 5-star hotels in Vegas!!!!  I’m looking at hotels in Tusayan.

On the visit to the Grand Canyon I think we will do best with taking in the Desert View and Watchtower and Look out studio by Bright Angel trail.  I looked into a tour which included a small plane from Las Vegas to South Rim, at $280/per person, it’s $560 and with gas and rental car, it’s $180 with car rental, gas and park entrance.  We would save 4 hours to do the tour, but the cost isn’t worth it, we are driving.  My daughter wasn’t into the flight/tour she looks at all of the reviews online!

We might stay at a different hotel on the way back just to get a different experience.  I am so excited.

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Lookout Studio at Grand Canyon Village.

 

Next adventure

Spring Break

There are two paths to take for spring break if you are planning to go somewhere.  Go see snow or go somewhere warm.  The thing about going somewhere warm is that most places in the USA aren’t warm enough in March if you want to be comfortable in shorts or swim, at least not for people who are used to hot weather.  Many of the major league baseball teams practice during the spring in Florida.  We are big Astros fans and went to Florida to see them play in a few practice games with other teams in West Palm Beach and Port St. Lucie.  The temperature didn’t get above 75 degrees, which is nice, I think you still need to wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt.

I really wanted to see manatees.  They kind of look like a walrus and they don’t get out of the water.  They are slow moving and referred to as a sea cows.  This time of year they seek warm water.  There is a power plant on the inter coastal in West Palm Beach that uses the water for cooling and releases warm water that is clean and the manatees hang out in the warm water that is released from the plant, so it’s a good viewing area.  The power plant setup a really nice educational facility dedicated to manatees and surrounding marine life.  This is called Manatee Lagoon.

manatees

manatee

Not far from manatee lagoon is a man made island called Peanut Island.  You can take a ferry the short distance for $12 round trip, which you could actually swim, however it’s in a busy boat area.  The island is about 1 and 1/4 miles around with a very nice beach, picnic areas and mangroves.  It’s a great place to snorkel and you can even camp overnight with a permit.  The island was created in 1918 by dredging to create an ocean inlet and it created the port of Palm Beach.  Not long after the coast guard made it a station.  It’s called Peanut island because there were plans to use the island as a terminal for shipping peanut oil, however that never happened.  In 1961 President Kennedy had a secret bunker and shelter built.  In 1984 the island became a recreation spot.  Since then improvements have been made and now it’s a really attractive place to come spend some leisure time.

inlet

I was really interested in the Kennedy Bunker.  We headed towards that area.  In August of last year they had a museum and tours, but they don’t anymore.  There are no trespassing signs posted.  Curiosity got the best of me, and we sort of ignored the signs.  There seems to be nobody there.  And it was exciting to try to find the bunker.  We did find it…

bunker

Supposedly it’s 1200 square feet and can hold 30 people for 30 days.  I don’t know about that.  The Coast Guard house needs to be restored, it takes a beating from past hurricanes and tropical storms.

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The island itself is very scenic.  There are lots of beautiful places to explore.  I would love to kayak or paddle board around it….FUN!

Spring Break

Three Themes

Life is such a joy with Luna!  We have been going to the dog park more often and I spend most of my time with her.  Sadly now I am dealing with her diarrhea issue.  I switched her diet to chicken and rice and she hasn’t gone in a day.  I don’t know if she was stressed by leaving her in her cage for a few hours, or if she ate too much of a bully ring, or something else.  There is no telling.  We play and she is my buddy.  We sleep together and I just love her so much.  We are going to Florida for Spring Break and have to leave her with the breeder.  I am so sad about it.  I take her everywhere and as much as possible leave when someone is here to be with her.  She is my best friend.

luna

Still working on my daughter’s chair that matches her table.  This has been quite a project.  I didn’t realize how frustrating it would be to have the seat stained and the rest painted.  There are so many options for winsor chairs, all wood, painted, and even the two toned.  I’ve never seen the two toned with a painted wood that has a glaze.  It looks kind of messy, but it makes the paint less of a contrast and more antiqued.  This reminds me of the colors of dark coffee and light coffee.  My daughter said to just go with it.  I put on a clear finish that turned milky!  I panicked and sanded it down and re-stained the seat.  I keep having problems with the meeting of the spindles and the stained seat.  You don’t want paint on your stained seat and you don’t want stain on your painted/glazed spindles.  There is no way this will be perfect.  I will say it’s a labor of love.  I hope it turns out nice.   The struggle is real when you live in 90% humidity, drying is an issue. The chair is in the bathroom so the dog won’t get it. 🙂

chair

I love the fact that I got this chair for free from a friend and re-purposed it.  I learned a lot about the style of this chair and it’s history for this reason.  Isn’t it cool to have a story about the very pieces of furniture that occupy your home?

Today we visited our new house to see the floors that are now in!  They look amazing!  I have dark wood floors throughout the house in the kitchen and most of the living spaces.  The bedrooms have carpet and the bathrooms have tile (as well as the laundry room).  I have learned on the first floor that as much as you can do without carpet, the flooring will last longer. We decided to stop by a furniture place I remembered passing on our search for neighborhoods.  We have looked at the regular more popular furniture stores and not found anything that we like.  This place was different.  And they charged a minimal fee to have a designer help us with the size and spacing of furniture.  I am so excited to have a designer help with our living room, dining room and my office space.  I didn’t realize how important the living room design was until I asked a design student to help make my living room in my previous house cozy and then had a stager help with selling the home.  Can’t wait to see how this turns out.  I think with someone that has an eye for design, it will be great.  The lady I met, Dawne, said her design experience came from her mother and that her mom worked in a fashion store from a young age and had a natural talent for putting together patterns.  I looked at the store’s website and found their blog.  I think it will workout perfectly.

leslies

Three Themes

30 days to close

Just about.  The house is coming along.  May of last year we chose to build a house, setting in motion a year long project.  Most of the time it doesn’t take that long to build a house.  We delayed the builder as long as they could go.  We put our house on the market in September, sold in a few days and moved into an apartment.  We dealt with the Design Center and choices with the builder, very confusing as to who does what with Toll Brothers.  We took advantage of a national sales event which gave us credits to use during the building process .  Most of the credits were used towards the extended kitchen island, exterior covered patio, and master bathroom.   For the most part we stuck to our budget.

The results are that we are happy with the exterior.  Adding corbels was extra for the elevation we chose, once painted dark,  they should pop.  My husband made a good choice with the double door entry.  And I’m happy with the changes we made to extend the kitchen island, move the fire place so that it isn’t centered on the wall, have a large covered patio and what the builder considers a luxury bath which gave us a short hallway to our bedroom off the living room.

homecomingalong

And I like the vanity nook too (we converted the linen closet to a vanity nook for $700 bucks).  This idea solves the problem of a place to put on make up.  The nook idea worked.  All of the linens can be stored in the cabinets.  We are liking the floor plan!

nook

Not sure we are loving the the cabinet and interior wall paint selection.  The builder grade paint has very little pigment.  Hopefully with neutral you can’t go wrong? My husband thinks it looks like we couldn’t make a decision between warm tones and grey tones.  I wish the builder would have had a little more options in customizing the kitchen cabinets.  They are a little plain.

fireplace

The fireplace stone is from Eldorado stone and the color is castaway.  At the last minute, I went for a warmer tone on the stone choice.   We won’t get the exact living room setup as my idea picture I had posted a while back, however it will be close enough.  To get the firebox off the ground and narrow is really expensive for some reason.  And I though it was expensive enough just to make the change we have.  The fireplace is not wood burning , it’s just gas, so there is no need for a hearth which sticks out too much in this space.  For now we are leaving out the mantel as well.

The wood floors are to go in this week.  I still can’t believe we are this close.  For four months we have been living in the apartment.  I can’t see us living in the house, however I am looking forward to it.  It will be a major change in routine. Everything will be different.

So much to do before then.  I submitted all of the paperwork they requested for closing which was a lot.   Who doesn’t have things they don’t want to do?  Who knows how long we will be in the new house.  I remember when we moved into our previous house, I had hopes that my kids would go to school there and that we would stay in the house for their entire school years.  We were really fortunate to achieve that.  I wonder what it would be like to know ahead of time how it will work out?  We still went through hell with my daughter and had to change schools, for the most part it worked out.

Who knows what life will bring in this new location.  The best advise is to not be tethered to anything.  God provides what you need and you need to go with it.  I really wish I would have fully understood this earlier.  Still, so happy we were able to achieve our life in one place for a long period of time.  That is done and can’t be taken away.

 

30 days to close

Paris in Houston

I’ve never been and want to go some day to Paris.  I love French things.  Why not set the mood of Paris on a rainy day?  What comes to mind for me is cafes, crepes and poodles.  “Lu” is my dog.  She is a Bichon Frise which is another French origin dog, just not as iconic as the Poodle.  We actually met a man who had a Bichon Frise that he named Paris.  We went to the dog park for the first time.  Lu has had all of her shots so we could finally take her.  What an exciting experience!  I didn’t know how she would act with other dogs.  We put her on the harness and leash and she was so excited about all of the smells.  The park we go to is one of the best ones I’ve seen.  It is 188 acres, has a large fishing lake, a big dog and little dog fenced in area (both sides have access to the water).  There are always people running, walking or biking around the lake.  The trail is 2 miles around and this is my favorite place to ride my bike.

luLu would go up to other dogs and stand on her hind legs and put her front paws on their back.  It seems dominate, however she would also lay flat in front of them as if saying I just want to meet you.  Once we saw she wasn’t being aggressive, we took her off the leash.  She ran around with a dog we met, Jolie.  She looked like she was having so much fun.friends

A chihuahua named Tinkerbell kept coming up to her and growling.  It was so funny, Lu wasn’t chasing her and the dog would go away and come back to her and growl at her.  Lu handled it well, she basically ignored her.  It’s interesting that some dogs are social and some scared or maybe a little aggressive.  I am thrilled to have her behave well and can’t wait to get her into her training.  I am very driven to do all I can to have Lu behave and be social…I’m scarred for life with the memory of our previous Bichon and how aggressive and antisocial she was with people outside the family.

On with the cafe…My daughter needed help setting up her unfurnished apartment.  After our urban adventure not too long ago, I have been working on her table.  I ordered an inexpensive unfinished 36 inch pedestal table off of Amazon made of rubber wood.  The small dining space has been a challenge to put in the right size table.  The free one was way too big, so I went with a 36 inch and it seems small.  The free chairs seem too big around the table although I have seen smaller round tables with Windsor chairs and it looks fine.  I’m really happy with the dark espresso finish and painted glazed two tone bottom.

table2

I will be working on the chairs next.  They will have an espresso seat and painted glaze everywhere else.  I just don’t know if I want the Windsor chairs with arms or without.  I found a pair of Windsor chairs without the arms on Offer Up for free and I just might go get them.  Apparently Windsor chairs date back to the 17th century.  They are made of all wood and the process of turning wood for the spindles, carving the seat and bending the wood by steam to create the arched back.  The chair may have received its name from the trade town of Windsor in England so says Wikipedia.

Now for some crepes!  I discovered they are pretty easy to make in a blender.   Today’s crepes will be strawberry, banana, Nutella and we will also have ham, cheese and spinach.  Yum!

Paris in Houston