Girls Weekend Corpus Christi

I had a great opportunity to play up a level and was on a tennis team that made it to sectionals.  I didn’t earn it, played three singles matches during the season and lost all three. Shortly, I was replaced by better players, understandably.  I have been working on improving.  Progress is slow.  The two better players couldn’t go so I was invited to play! We rented a condo by the beach for 11 of us.  I only really knew 2 of the girls, however when you get an opportunity like this, it’s great to go for it.  People can be quite competitive.  You have to be a pretty strong person to know that you probably don’t have what it takes to compete, and try anyway.  I do have some things going for me, but controlling the entire game at the 4.0 level is not there yet.  Hopefully soon I will earn a spot to be there.

The one friend I went with waited for me and we left Houston late.  It’s a little over a 3 hour drive.  She is one of the best people in the world!  We arrived around 8PM and ate at a local restaurant called Doc’s which is just off Padre Island.  The first thing I noticed was the absolutely beautiful sunset.

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I had some amazing fish tacos and the other ladies had salad.  This tennis group has many very fit ladies.

The condo we rented was nice.  It had three floors.  Two bedrooms downstairs, two in the middle and one up.  I think there were 3 or 4 bathrooms.  The top floor had the living room, dining and kitchen.  It was decorated in such a cute beachy theme.  Our group brought a lot of food for breakfast, dinner and plenty of drinks.  We actually had 4 coffee pots.

The first match of the tournament was held at the HEB tennis center.  HEB is a big grocery store in Corpus Christi.  It’s tough to play in 100 degree weather, you really have to condition for it.  I was hoping my opponent would struggle with it, but she didn’t.  We played another match at Al Kruse tennis center.  My opponent was nice to let me crawl under her umbrella for shade on the change overs, I asked.  I would imagine if I was kicking her butt,  I may not have gotten any shade 😉

The next day we played in the morning at the Corpus Athletic center, got my butt whooped again playing a leftie.  I have so much work to do.  I hope my coach is up to it. Then we had a pool day.  The pool had some shade, the beaches, while nice, have absolutely no shade.  Padre Island is a barrier island and has even less on it than Galveston.  It’s very similar to Port Aransas.  It was pleasant walking on the beach at night.  Mornings were nice sipping coffee on the patio.

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I thought it would be awkward going for a weekend with ladies I didn’t know well.  I’m thankful for the opportunity, the experience and it was a whole lot more fun than work. If I could ever find a way to get paid to play tennis, that would be good.  For now, it’s back to the grind.

Girls Weekend Corpus Christi

Houston World Series Dog Show

It has been in the 100s this week mid day!  So we found something cool to do!  Visit the dog show at NRG.   It was held at the convention center.  Parking was $12 and adult entry $15 cash!  On the agenda:

  1. Meet the breeds
  2. Agility showcase
  3. Breed judging
  4. Visit breed rescue booths.

And for me, find a Bichon!  And pet as many cuties as possible.  We first went to the meet the breeds and found this little cutie.  It’s a Miki.  The ones we saw were so tiny.  You could tell they have such little fragile bones.  I love small dogs, however when they are this small, I worry that they are too fragile.  This is Morgan.

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The agility showcase was pretty cool too, the dogs would race over obstacles, through tubes and weave through obstacles.  I think the star of the agility show is the border collie!   Right next to the obstacle course was a grooming showcase.  They had poodles decorated with different kinds of spray color and hair styles.

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I was on the hunt for a bichon.  Since ours died a few months ago I want to find a breeder or a rescue.  I found Audrey who was about to compete.  She is absolutely gorgeous!  One day I will find another bicon frise…

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We saw some of the dogs being judged.  We were allowed to walk where they are preparing for show.  Some of the handlers are friendly, others are quite unfriendly.  I mean come on, it’s dogs!  I love watching the bouncy happy dogs with the sparkle in their eye, it’s all I can do to contain myself from running up to them and petting them or talking to them like they are babies.  Ok so maybe that’s why the handlers ignored me.

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We browsed through the pet food and accessories and made our way over to the rescue booths.  I was able to hold a Shih Tzu named Sugar.  She was 10 years old and the sweetest thing you have ever seen.  I would love to have her, I don’t think I could take only 4-8 years then a broken heart again.   It’s something to consider.  They didn’t have a Bichon Frise rescue sadly.

Just look at these cuties… Dogs are very special ❤

Houston World Series Dog Show

Taste in Texas

One thing about Houston is the amazing diversity in available food options.   Just because we live in Texas doesn’t mean it’s just BBQ.    As in most big cities, I’m sure, you get a really nice diversity.  You do at least in Houston, especially downtown.   You can get African, Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean, Cuban, Venezuelan, German, Cajun and of course Mexican it goes on!   Believe it or not Houston is famous for Czechoslovakian Kolaches (breakfast food).   Downtown has more specialty grocery stores and more choices for people interested in vegan and organic healthy choices.  I have noticed in the more rural areas, it becomes harder to find the variety.  In Livingston in particular, you can get hamburgers, fried chicken and fried catfish there are not many restaurant choices.    With the expense eating out, I’d rather eat at home anyway.

I’ve probably mentioned my daughter and I like to eat healthy.  She texted me today a picture of a dish that she got from Ruggle’s Green which has some amazing dishes.  I had some salmon in the fridge and thought maybe I’d make my own dish.   Her cost, $16 . Mine, less.  I think the salmon was around $3-$4.  And I only used a portion of the veggies.

Can you tell which is the restaurant version?  I could have added some crushed pistachios and maybe a little shredded parm. some hummus with pita triangles if I really wanted to be fancy.  (But I had already had some nuts earlier).  Anyway, it was VERY satisfying.  The salmon was baked with feta, chives, cilantro and a lemon vinaigrette.

My son and husband ate What-a-Burger.  A Texas legend!  Interestingly enough my son gets the chicken.  He also refuses vegetables except potatoes and occasionally broccoli.  The only fish he will eat is fried.  I ask him all of the time what do you want to eat?  This week, his breakfast request was Pop Tarts.  I have bought them in the past, but my daughter’s non GMO ways are rubbing off on me.  Really it’s more about the ingredients in our food.  I disagree with her on several things.   I think it’s necessary to make modifications to grow more to feed more (farmers have been doing it for years).  But, to her point, there have been some unsafe additions to the food supply that have been pulled out like transfats.

Anyway, I told my son that  I didn’t think Pop Tarts were nutritious.  What if I make “Pop Tarts”.  He made a face that indicated he didn’t like that idea, but I’m going to do it anyway.  My daughter and a friend did a school project with home made “healthy” Pop Tarts and entered a State contest.  They didn’t win, however, the younger generation’s trends may prevail eventually.   I hope the healthier ones will anyway.

So where did I go? Pinterest of course!  How does homemade compare to the real deal?  Nutritiously, there is nothing nutritious about it!  It’s a desert.  I compared a chocolate fudge Pop Tart to a home made Nutella tart.  For the Pop Tart, it’s 400 calories for 2, 10g of fat, 38 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 74 grams of carbohydrates and 460 milligrams of sodium.  Cost about $3.68 which has about 3 servings (6 tarts).  The home made ones are 320 calories for 1!  Oops!  Come on though!  If they  don’t taste good what’s the point?  I’d rather make them 1/2 the size and taste better if I’m going to compete on the calories.  Cost, it’s about $5.19 …ouch.  I’m not doing good here…  I made tarts that are more expensive and have more calories. I used pie crust for the pastry.  I am going to try some homemade preserves as a filler (at least that is real fruit and should have a little more nutritional value).  Anyway, it was fun.  They do taste better and have about 1/2 the sugar . For $5.19 I can at least get a variety.  And the preserves were a gift.

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Taste in Texas

Christmas Lights Houston

Never would I have guessed we would have such an amazing display of Christmas lights at the Houston Zoo.  With a cloud blanket over the city, temps in the mid 50s, and no wind, this was the most pleasant winter dazzling display of lights I have seen.  My son and his friend wanted to go, so I purchased tickets on line (smart choice).  Because of the amazingness and the fact that we live in a very populated area, there was a huge crowd.  My son suggested we buy tickets online which I did. ($20/per person for prime time…weekends after dark).  I figured parking would be a zoo…pun intended.  When I tried to turn into the zoo, it was blocked and I saw the sign to park at the overflow lot with shuttle in (shuttle free, parking $6, credit accepted…yay).  This was about 1.5 miles away and the wait to get onto the shuttle at least 20-30 minutes.  So very happy to have dressed warm (jeans, sweater, comfy ankle boots and coat).  My party of boys were dressed warm too thankfully!.

Once we got there, I saw another huge line to purchase tickets which we walked past.  Then finally onto some excitement….the lights dance with Christmas music.

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There are arrows that guide you through the park.  Most of the animals were resting and not visible.  The lights are very dim so you can’t see much in their habitats.  We did see a giraffe that was up.  What an amazing animal!  I noticed the parrot habitat had heat lamps and you can see the shadowy silhouette of the birds resting by it.   My son was hungry so we stopped for a bite, I noticed they were serving adult beverages and hot beverages at stands…different.

As we walked, we were mesmerized by lights.  So many lights and it was so nice to meander around the park.  This is a really nice zoo.  We are right in the center of the medical complex and Rice University. They did have white “statue” animals that they shined lights on that moved and changed color.  They decorated around the animal’s habitats, like light up flamingos by the flamingo habitat.  They had underwater themed lights, floral themed lights and so many trees covered in solid colors of red, green, blue, purple and white.

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We saw this towering Christmas tree too…

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Tis the season!  Shuttling out of the park took much less time than in.  Even though there was a large crowd, it didn’t bother me because the display was so worth it.  It took about an hour to go through the park, you could spend more or less time.  It would be fun to go on a date or with family.   It did take the entire evening considering the drive and getting in and out of (that’s just more time to be with the people you love).

Christmas Lights Houston

Critical Mass Houston

Critical Mass is a bike event held on the last Friday of each month.  With the weather as fabulous as it is, this is one event I did not want to miss.  I found it during my research of cycling groups to prepare for the MS150.  And since we are so close to Halloween, many dressed up.  The event starts at Market Square Park in downtown Houston.  It’s a great spot for night life.  There is an outdoor restaurant as well as a street lined with old buildings and really cool city restaurants.  Sometimes other events are held there like blanket bingo.    There was well over 1000 people that showed up for this event.  To find parking was difficult, I used a garage not far by in the theater district.  Not knowing what to expect, the first thing I saw was a solo slender man in a slim fit business suit riding a bike all lit up (the wheels especially) and trailing a bike trailer (also lit up) that carried a modern boom box blasting dance music.  This set the tone for what kind of event this was.  There were all kinds of people there, mostly young, but older people too.  There was a girl with the cutest puppy on her back in a backpack.  I tried to take a pic but it came out blurry.  We rolled out at a little later than 7:30PM.  One lady told me the path changes every month and is never announced before hand, and it’s usually about 20 miles.

Being that I did not have a light on my bike, I knew I had to stick to the crowd and ride the entire route.  Police are organized for this event because they allowed us through the intersections, we took up the entire road.  I was totally lost as to where we were going but we ended up going through the Heights which is a very cool part of Houston.  It’s hip and it’s established and it’s young and funky, it’s one of the best places near downtown.

We stopped at an HEB (grocery store) midway for about 15 minutes.  Some guy offered me Oreos (such friendly people, I did do this by myself).  I was a little unsocial, so I could have met more people, just not feeling well today, despite the drive to make it to this event since it only happens once a month!   I checked the map to see where we were and saw that we were 14 miles to Market Square.  I assume, since that was the midway point that it was closer to a 30 mile ride.  At this point I tried to move to the front of the pack, thought I was there, but it just kept going.  I really don’t know who was the leader, it just sort of happened.

There were so many kinds of bikes, BMX, mountain bikes, road bikes.  And some people wore helmets.  I personally witnessed a guy use his front brakes and completely flip over the handlebars (without a helmet).  He was ok, I’m glad I wore one.  This is a ride that you have to be comfortable being extremely close to others.   Before I left I decided to take my older Cannondale, because if I needed to stop and lock it up with my cheap lock, and it got stolen, I wouldn’t cry as badly as I would with my nice road bike.  Plus it has the regular petals. (not clip ins) I only saw one guy wear clip in shoes.   I asked him about it and he said his were easy to get out of.  Mine are not!!! So it was a good call for me to go with the bike I did.  There were parts of the ride that were slow and parts that were fast. I’m happy with the bike I chose for this event.  I really did take a risk in that I didn’t have any tools with me to change a tire in the case of a flat.  And that does happen, I’ve gone for rides close to home twice and had to call home for rescue.  I didn’t really see bike medics, so I will wear a backpack and prepare for that in the future.  That could have been UGLY!

Overall, this was an extremely cool event to go to on a Friday night.  Time well spent!

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Critical Mass Houston

Run for fun…how to

So here are a few words about running.  Why do it?  What is the point?  Why would anyone run?

I was actually shocked when my daughter said she was interested in extra credit for one of her classes.  She just needed to sign up for a 5K and participate in it.  Wow!  This is my daughter?  She HATES running and exercise for that matter. Yet it’s interesting she does feel good after a bike ride…hmmmm.  Anyway, happy to hear this, we signed up.   I thought for sure we would walk the whole way and I was prepared for that.  However, she decided to try and run.  In case you don’t run and would like to, here are a few tricks.  The hardest part about running is actually when you go from a low heart rate to an elevated one.  That feeling is uncomfortable.  Once you get your heart rate up, you start thinking, maybe I should stop, I don’t want to continue feeling this way or maybe it will get worse and I can’t breathe.   It is true that with training eventually you can breathe easier.  And even a runner that has been doing it for a long time can still feel uncomfortable when starting out.   For me, I think it’s easier to start slow and work up to a faster pace.  My daughter was saying speed up!  I do, after a warm up period.  To me it’s that way to gradually bring up the heart rate so that the uncomfortable feeling is lessened.   We picked distances to run to, like that light pole, or to the bridge.  As far as you can go before you need to rest.  Since I do run, I listened to her and tried to balance the rest with enough encouragement to keep her trying.  I think we did pretty well.

Running can be very scenic.  Downtown Houston is a very nice city.  It’s clean and on an early Sunday morning, very quite.  The towering buildings in all shapes and sizes are really interesting to look at.  People are friendly.  There are parks mixed in, trees, birds, and flowers that enhance the surroundings.  This time of year, late September, it’s still very hot and humid.  During this time of year my favorite time to run is at night, just because it’s cooler.  It’s also a good way to get off the couch instead of binge watch TV  programs that you don’t care about or watch depressing news.

While running, most of the time I don’t listen to music.  Sometimes listening to the same tunes gets old.  I like to be in my thoughts and think about all kinds of things.  Things I need to do, things I have done, problem solve.  Sometimes, I like to think about just my current surroundings and try to connect with the senses, what I see, hear, smell and feel.  (I certainly don’t like to taste, because it’s probably going to be a bug!).  Running is a way to calm down mentally.  It’s a proven fact that it is good for your mental wellness.  There are so many benefits…relieves depression, as well as improves your body’s functioning systems.

It did help that when I got back into running I needed to loose some weight so that I could move what I’m carrying on my body.  Running itself is not a huge calorie burner. Especially if you are not running very long distances.  For example about 3 miles for me burns about 250 calories.  So, it’s not really a weight loss idea, it’s the other benefits that I like about it.  I’m also not doing it to improve speed, my best is about 9MPH.  But average is more like 10MPH.  I hope to be as fortunate as some others to be running at a very late age.

I will say something about shoes!  It’s really the only think that I think is truly necessary when you run…to have a good pair of shoes. It’s worth the investment so that you can keep running.  I think Asics are the best!  They are super light on your feet.  Mine are cushioned which I think helps with your joints.  I tried Nike before and they rubbed my toenail to the point it separated too much and I got a fungus that took 2 years to get rid of. Not all Asics are the same either .  My favorite is the Kinsei 5s ❤

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Run for fun…how to

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 !