21 April 2017

Not Quite Red Rocks....

Not Quite Red Rocks....
But Outdoor Entertainment Nevertheless
(Number 96: Houston Miller Outdoor Theater- see a show. )
(Bonus: No.71: Plan and execute a picnic)

Happy weekend!!

Number Four on my Sixty by Sixty list was/is go to Red Rocks in Denver for a performance.  For those that aren't familiar, Red Rocks is a an outdoor amphitheater with perfect acoustics in the mountains.  Stone steps make up the seats, the "walls" are the natural red (duh) rocks of the area.   I have been there early in the day when there wasn't a performance, but it is on my list to actually see a performance there, preferably musical, at some point in the future.

 Rock walls

Stone seats

And look! 
Diane, Diana and Lucy.
Can't believe this was so long ago. 

Until then, while I am back in the Houston area and doing Houston things, I hit up the next best thing. Or at least the next best thing locally.  Houston Miller Outdoor Theater, which I made No. 96 on the list. Miller Theater has FREE performances throughout the spring/summer/fall (i.e. most of the year in this part of Texas!) and they can vary from musicals, symphony, ballet, children's performances and more.  While it is outdoors, they do have some covered seating. The remaining seating is on a manmade hill overlooking the stage.

One of the benefits of outdoor venues? 
Beautiful sunsets while you wait for the show to start.

Friend Martha, along with another friend Betsy, headed to see the HITS musical production of Footloose. Side note: I have never seen the entire movie of Footloose. I HAVE seen Kevin Bacon in the dance scene at the end. Not sure where I was or what I was doing in the early 80s but I missed a few of the most popular movies around then.  (Flashdance? Never seen it either. )

Here we go....

HITS is a youth group so the presentation was entirely made up of students. Students who aspire to be real live paid actors. Not exactly Broadway caliber but there were some high points. The lead actor could really dance...very Fred Astaire-like with long legs and long arms and great moves. His singing? Eh. Hit or miss.  The preacher, on the other hand, had a great voice.

Preaching to the choir.

But overall the show was great and I guess I have an idea of how the movie played out now. Still need to watch it.

To make the most of our night, we brought a picnic and were even able to bring our own adult beverages...as long as they weren't in glass containers. (Even though I have already crossed off No. 71 on the list which was to have a picnic, I'm going to count this in the picnic list. No harm doing the fun things more than once!)  I'm sure decanting wine into plastic is the stuff of oenophiles' nightmares but it worked for Martha and Betsy. I stuck with beer in a can. We had a charcuterie platter for our dinner and snacked our way through the entire show. There were some envious glares from the surrounding seats who didn't come as prepared. (Or maybe that was anger and annoyance- we were blocking the aisle a bit.)

Look at that feast! 

So...not Red Rocks but a pretty fun substitute. Although, seriously, anywhere with friends, food and drink? Always fun.

Probably no post next week as I am headed to San Antonio on Thursday. It is Fiesta time in San Antonio and I get to help judge a parade! Talk about a new and different experience. I am super super excited and 200% looking forward to a little break. Can't wait to tell you all about it.

14 April 2017

i love you so much....

i love you so much....

Last weekend I visited my friend Ann in lovely Austin.

It was a quick trip, up Saturday, back Sunday.

But we packed in the excitement.

Saturday we headed to S. Congress to people watch and wander.  All that wandering worked up an appetite. So we ended up at Guero's for a little Tex Mex and maybe a margarita or two.

Honest. It was only a couple of drinks each.
In the middle of the day.
We were having fun. 
I love sitting at the bar to eat. My new favorite.

Sitting at the bar, we realized there were TOURISTS everywhere. Huh?  I guess I have been reading more and more about Austin as a destination but still, it surprised me.  A tourist destination? No, it's where a bunch of friends went off to college and stayed...not a place to go for a bachelor weekend. But apparently it is a place to go for a bachelor weekend as the five guys from New York City sitting next to us explained.

Anyway, after Ann gave the New Yorkers some tips on where to go, we headed off to have our picture taken in front of the I Love You So Much color wall. Such a fun idea: paint a wall bold and bright and watch people line up to have their picture taken in front of it.  Good job Jo's Coffee.

 I love this pic so much. It was a happy day. 

 Bunny ears for Ann. 
Such a good day.

We did a little regroup after S. Congress, and ended up eating dinner nearer to Ann's apartment. NxNW Restaurant and Brewery was walking distance which I always think makes things more fun.  It had a whole wall of brew tanks and somehow, Miss Beer Drinker Me ended up with Prosecco. I seldom miss a chance to try a fun beer, but that night I did.

Really, how could I pass up this display?

We had the waitress take our pic but all it shows is how tired we were. (And that empty Creme Brûlée bowl.) Seriously, why didn't she prompt us a bit to "perk up" or a "sit up straight"?

The Creme Brûlée was gone. 
Surprised those strawberries were still around. 

The food was yummy and I'm counting it as a new restaurant as I've never been there before. I had a fabulous, decadent shrimp pasta while Ann went for the crab cakes. And since I hadn't consumed enough calories for the day, I insisted on Creme Brûlée for dessert. We kinda shared. Not much. I ate most of it.
But the best part of the dinner?   It was prom night. All the cute young things in tuxes and suits and formals and fun short dresses paraded by, teetering on stilettos and awkwardly acting all adult for one night. Ann and I had a blast critiquing the dresses.

And because Ann always takes me to the nicest places, on Sunday she exposed me to Costco.

 I had never been.   I've done Sam's Warehouse many times but never a Costco. I've always heard everyone say Costco is so much better. More fun. Better samples. More random bargains.

Such a selection of premade meals!

 Everyone is right. We had a blast. Sampled our way around the store.  Found some deals. Admired the plants and flowers. Inspected the clothes.

The crowds are starting to gather. 
Time to get out.

And then church let out.  And it started to get crowded. And there were lots of families huddling together in the aisles. And it was time to leave.
I don't really have a lot of patience with crowds anymore.

So, just like on S. Congress, the crowds came and we left.

And the weekend drew to a close and I drove home.

But what a lovely 36 hours.
A good friend, good food, good fun.

06 April 2017

Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning

Right down the street from me, every Saturday morning, there is a Farmer's Market.

Farmers Market and More!

I've only been once.

I mean, this place is literally just down the street. Walking distance.  Yet I've only been one time, shortly after it opened.

So this past Saturday, I made my second visit.

The Farmer's Market is at the old Imperial Sugar Factory.  While the factory has long been closed, the buildings are still there.  (Well, most of them. Some of them we watched get imploded. LOVE to watch a building fall down.) Eventually this old factory will be turned into retail and living space but first the old space has to be catalogued (this is the history of Sugar Land we are talking about) and emptied out and Goodness knows what else. In the interim, some of the main level space has been turned into a Children's Museum and the outdoor area has the farmer's market.

Implosions start early. 
If you've never seen one, you should go.
This was my second. 

"Fire in the hole!" 
They really do yell that. 
And then ....BOOM!



Next comes the white structure.
It took a few tries until....


It's small but fun and you could definitely have breakfast AND lunch there. In addition to the typical  fruits and veggies there are local farms with grass fed beef, bakeries and local honey. Of course there are a few stands with jewelry and candles also.

 Hair bows, chickens, and baked goods. 
All in a row.

 Of course, produce.

Look at that beautiful head of greens. 
Not sure what it is, but it looks healthy.

Well behaved dogs are allowed (So, of course, Carlos did NOT go. He's unpredictable in crowds.)  Music is playing out by the picnic tables. It was a fabulous way to kill some time on a Saturday morning.

No purchases were made, but I still had a fun time wandering.


And I'm sorry about the sporadic postings. Changes are happening around here which have kept me busy.
We had a new roof put on Monday/Tuesday and on Wednesday the hot water went out.  Suspecting they were related, I called the roofers first. Somehow we had lost a vent cover between the roof and the water heater and we were lucky that the pilot light had gone out, also.

This little vent hood had popped off and gotten lost 
while the roofers were roofing. 
They replaced it, I re-lit the pilot light and I can hear that baby percolating away.
Hot shower, here I come!

A rearranged morning and a couple of trips by the roofers and we are back in business. I have to say I am super impressed by this company, Ochoa Roofing, and they have done a super job.

Tonight I'm headed to Miller Outdoor Theater in Houston for a free show of "Footloose, the Musical".  (Can you believe, I never have seen the original movie? ) The weekend will be spent visiting a friend in Austin.

The weather is beyond fabulous and life is good.

30 March 2017

No. 90: Twelve New Restaurants for 2017

No. 90: Twelve New Restaurants for 2017
Here's No. 2 for the Year  (Yikes! I'm already behind.)

Last weekend would have been my parent's 68th wedding anniversary. Sadly dad didn't quite make it to celebrate. But I felt the day needed commemorating so mom and I went to dinner.

I was looking for someplace quiet since mom's hearing isn't the best. That's hard to find in a restaurant these days.

We ended up at a small local restaurant called Off the Vine Bistro in Missouri City.  Tucked away in the corner of a tiny strip center, this little bistro was a delight.   While the decor was a little plain, the food and service was excellent.

I did snap this pic the next day. 
Very tucked away- we almost didn't find it.

I was so enjoying the evening out with mom that I forgot to take any pictures. I wish I had gotten one of the two of us. Guess we will just have to do it again....

Anyway,  the food was super fresh and yummy. I had a sampler of bacon wrapped dates (my favorite), bacon wrapped shrimp (amazingly fresh) and spiced meatballs served up with a side salad of some of the freshest greens around.

The interior- plain but friendly.

Mom had a turkey, bacon, cranberry relish sandwich and some home made chips. I didn't taste her sandwich but some of her chips certainly migrated onto my plate. Not sure how it happened. And they were good.

A sandwich pic stolen from their website.
Look at that yummy salad of greens. 

Dessert was a rosy lemon cake which was so-so...the only near miss of the night.

They also have an extensive wine selection and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights they have live music out on the patio.

We both 100% enjoyed our meal and mom even mentioned going back this weekend when she will be treated to a birthday lunch by my nieces. (I may have to join them.)

Ten more restaurants to go this year!!

28 March 2017

Springing forward...

Spring has Sprung....

It's Spring. Certainly it is in Texas. And we are hurtling towards Summer. The heat will be here before we know it and how will I manage? Haven't spent a full summer in Texas in a few years. Not sure I will be able to do it.

Anyway. Spring.

Three ways I know it is Spring for sure- at least in these parts- are bluebonnets, the rodeo and allergies.

I know the bluebonnets are in bloom by the adorable photos my nieces post on Facebook of their children plopped in a field of snakes bugs mice flowers.  Also we have a few little patches of blue flowers in our neighborhood.  I never got pics of my kids sitting amongst the bluebonnets (an act that surely brands me as a failed Texas mother) but I have gotten the dogs.
Proof that it is spring in Texas: My child in a field (patch) of bluebonnets.

 Carlos could not understand why I wanted him to sit and stay. 

So grateful to the neighbors for keeping their little bluebonnet patches. 

And here is the last dog, the amazing Jake, also posing in a field (patch) of blue.  Can't even tell he only has three legs at this point.

 Look at that sweet face. 
He had survived bone cancer and his leg being amputated 
by about 8 months at this point. Four months later he was gone. 

Good dog, Jake. 

Aren't they cute?

My allergies are also blooming. Ugh. Every Spring. And Fall.
In spite of 4 years of allergy shots, my sinuses still notice the change of seasons.
I am medicating myself daily with at least one of the available disagreeable options.
Nasacort, which clears up my sinuses and doesn't put me to sleep, apparently causes glaucoma.
Benadryl and Claritin-D both work wonderfully, but it seems they are going to give me dementia.

Talk about the lesser of two (three) evils.
Do I not breathe, not see or not think?
I'm going to have to go with my girls' attitude on this. By the time I develop whatever symptoms I end up developing, hopefully science will have a cure.
(I used to get this rationale from those girls every time I insisted on sunscreen. I gave up threatening cancer and instead threatened spotted skin like their sunbathing mother and now both of them are regular and diligent sunscreen users. It pays to know your children's weaknesses.)

And the last true sign Spring has sprung in Texas is rodeo.  Every March for almost 3 weeks, the city of Houston does rodeo. And they do it big time. Or is that bigly?

This was an amazing display.  
Starting with one grandma horse, all of her daughters and their daughters came out one by one
and ran through the arena. 
All bred to be bucking horses. 

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the largest live entertainment and livestock exhibitions in the United States. The musical entertainment runs from rock, Tejano to country. There's mutton busting and bull riding and wagon races. Carnival rides outside have all the wonderful fried foods you could imagine. There's a Wine Garden for the adults and plenty of clubs with live music to entertain the volunteers. 

The beginning of an evening at the Wine Garden. 
Martha and I ran into Allison and her friends. 

And there are TONS of volunteers.  Thirty three thousand volunteers.  One of the benefits of volunteering for the rodeo is that you get to go to any and every show (that you aren't working) for free and bring a friend along. Friend Martha is a volunteer. She has been for 14 years. And this year I benefited from her volunteering not once but twice!  She loves to go to all the shows but her sweet husband travels a lot so she needs company. I am always (almost always) a willing date. 

The wine bottles are adding up and we've added another friend.

Thanks to Martha I saw Chris Stapleton one night and Chris Young another.  We ran into my high school friend Allison and her friends at the Chris Young concert and both nights saw many of her volunteering partners and friends.   

Several bottles in and the nice man at the next table offered to take our pic. 
He also volunteered to photo bomb.
We were all quite happy at this point!

Martha even got me out on the dance floor trying to teach me a line dance before we both realized that was a mistake. I have many talents. Dancing is not one of them. 

Chris Stapleton. An amazing concert. 
He seemed like such a shy performer but his music was beyond...

And Chris Young. 
Sadly the acoustics were off at this performance, but it
was still an amazing night of fun and music.

So YAY for Spring. The rodeo is over. The bluebonnets are almost done. And the allergies? They are probably here to stay. 

07 March 2017

No. 92: Visit the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern +

No. 92: Visit the Buffalo Bayou  Park Cistern plus
A New Restaurant for 2017 (No. 90)

Visiting a decommissioned underwater cistern doesn't really sound like something to look forward to,  but ever since I first read about it a year or so ago, it has been on my list. And that was before it was even open to the public.

The drinking water reservoir was originally built in 1926 to hold water for the City of Houston. Eventually it sprang a leak and was decommissioned in 2007, then slated for demolition.  The Buffalo Bayou Partnership, which has developed the park running along Buffalo Bayou,  realized the significance of the old cistern and stepped in to save it.

Opening to the public in May of 2016, the cistern is accessed through a tunnel and toured by walking the 1/4 mile path built around the interior of the reservoir. There are two skylights which allow light to enter for regular viewing. (This visit the skylights were covered because of an art installation.) Inside the 87,500 square foot space there are 221 evenly spaced 25 foot tall columns that rest in about 6" of water. The little bit of water is left in the reservoir to help protect the concrete structure and it also allows the columns to reflect, making them seem to project into infinity. 

Entering the ramp to the space, the temperature drops a bit and there is that lovely dank smell of water.  The lights go off completely for about 30 seconds to allow your eyes to adjust to the dark.  The longer you are in the space, the more acclimated your eyes get.   

Upon entry, they give you a minute to let your eyes adjust to the dark.

In partnership with the Houston Museum of Fine Art the cistern is currently exhibiting an audio visual feast, Rain by Magdalena Fernández.  The almost two minute light show is accompanied by the sounds of a thunderstorm. Bars of light are projected onto the columns, building with the storm until there is simultaneous flash of light and thunder . A Slovenian a cappella group created the thunderstorm sounds by snapping fingers, stomping their heels, and slapping their hands against their legs. The damp earthy smell of the cistern adds to the effect of a summer storm. The show repeated as the tour guide walked us around the structure, occasionally stopping so we could take pictures without bumping into each other in the dark.  As we travelled around the perimeter, I was able to see more of the light show as my eyes adjusted to the darkness of the space. 

The beginning of the exhibition, lights slowly coming up.

And it was amazing. I was silently clapping with each crash of thunder. So worth the trip.  
I can't wait to go back when the exhibit is gone so I can experience the cistern on its own. I'm sure it will be just as fascinating, albeit a bit quieter. 

Thunder and lightning!
O my!

After the tour, it was lunch time. The Kitchen at the Dunlavy had been recommended for lunch and it did not disappoint. 

There was a little wait- 
here we are outside in line!

Also in the Buffalo Bayou Park but a bit of a distance from the cistern, we drove rather than taking one of the many trails. Martha was once again my companion for this adventure because she is always game to try something new, bless her heart. I had the most scrumptious turkey and brie sandwich while Martha tried the chicken BLT. (We both agreed my sandwich was the better value and flavor. Her's was a little sparse.)   

Is this not just the perfect decór? 
Warehouse meets 40s glamour. 
And look at those happy diners!

Tummies full, we walked down to the Waugh Street bridge from the restaurant to listen to the bats twitter.  The path goes under the bridge and you can hear the bat colony rustling around, making sweet little sounds.  I need to go back at dusk to watch them all fly out in search of dinner. Maybe that needs to be added to the list? 

All in all it was a fabulous way to spend a Saturday. The cistern is a quick visit but it does not disappoint and the entire Buffalo Bayou Park is a jewel. Definitely I will go back. Maybe rent bicycles next time? Watch the bats? Who knows? 

Cistern and restaurant visited. Yay. 

(And thanks to Martha for the last three pics. My iPhone was declaring "no more room". Sigh)

01 March 2017

No. 7: Learn Calligraphy and No. 77: Continuing Education

No. 7: Learn Calligraphy and No. 77: Continuing Education- take a class.

Isn't that convenient when I get a two-fer? Twice now!

If you remember I TRIED Calligraphy while I was in Colorado. Bought some books, ordered a nib, tried to teach myself.

Major fail.

Ooo. Looking at this I see YUUUGE problems. 
Going about it all wrong. 

I quickly realized it was a sure-fire way to learn some bad habits.  The pens and ink went into a basket where they stay until this day.

And then I asked a friend who does beautiful calligraphy "Who taught you?".     She was quick to answer with a name and place.

Pat Leith on W. Alabama in Houston. Close enough for me to take some lessons.  And bless her heart: lessons are private and work at your own pace. It can take ten hours or 20 to learn, she doesn't care. When you have it down, you are done.

I have had one lesson.  I learned the "straight" letters. Next up: the "kinky" ones. She certainly makes learning to letter interesting!

See how much more consistent these are? 
That's what happens when someone is monitoring what you are doing. 

The most important thing from my first lesson? You are drawing the letter, not writing it.  You learn to make shapes which join together to make letters, you don't learn how to write a specific letter. I did pretty well as long as I thought about it as a shape. Once I got to thinking "this is a "U" instead of "two halves of a paperclip", my lettering fell apart.

I've still got a long way to go but this time, I am headed in the right direction.

26 February 2017

No.1: Big 60th Birthday Trip and No. 64: South Padre Island

No. 1: Big 60th Birthday Trip plus No. 64: South Padre Island/ A Two-Fer!

Again, sorry for the silence.  In the past month I've helped my mom move, been out of town, and started a new job. Lots of little adjustments. But now, I'm back.....

Just came back from a weekend in Terrell, Tx with my high school friends and realized, What?!, I never did a post on last year's 60th birthday trip to S. Padre.

February 2016. I am really late on this one!

Friend Ann had been a bit under the weather and overwhelmed (metastatic breast cancer will do that to you) so we decided to keep the 60th Birthday Trip a little closer to home. Some of us (okay, me) had never been to S. Padre Island, others had been and loved it. Being driving distance away was the icing on the cake.

M. Anne found us a lovely condo on the beach complete with pool that was supposed to heat up. I'm sure it would have gotten warm if the owners had turned the heater on about a week before we showed up. As it was, the weather was a little cool, and so was the pool.

That pool started to get warm the last day we were there. 
Too little, too late.
And too sad, since M. Anne really worked hard to find us a heated pool.

S. Padre Island was...an island. With pretty white sand. And row after row after row of condos.  I've been now, no need to go back. Yes, the sand was gorgeous but I was raised going to Galveston and Surfside where the sand isn't always so pretty and I still love those beaches. Between the distance we drove and the abundance of condos, I would be just as happy staying closer to home and living with non-white sand.

However, put six women, an abundance of champagne and wine, lots of excellent food and an opportunity to shop together for a weekend and happiness is guaranteed.

Every trip we do a bottle photo. 
Sometimes it's a little embarrassing. 
And, for the record, I'm mostly a beer drinker. 

We did a tour of the sea turtle rescue center and hit the convention center for a craft's fair.

Liddy, Peggy and Allison getting their turtle on.

The sea turtle rescue center was a little rag-tag but still fun. They could use some donations. (In case you have some money you need to get rid of...)

Help me!
I swim in circles. 
Sweet rescue turtle...

We walked the beach and listened to live music at Clayton's,  the largest beach bar in Texas. The music was good, the daiquiris were better and the array of dancers was the best.  I firmly believe that no matter how old you are on the outside, we all feel our best age on the inside when we cut loose.  Apparently that age was somewhere between 18 and 22 for the majority of the 55+ aged dancers.

A last minute pic- no make up, wet hair,  ready to roll. 
Sixty is pretty cute.
B: Me, Allison, Liddy
F: Peggy, M. Anne, and Ann

So we did it. Celebrated our 60th birthdays AND went to the island.

Which brings us to last weekend.

Liddy's first grand baby was born last October, at 25 weeks along and weighing only 11 ounces. She is one of the smallest surviving babies in the world.  Now weighing about 3 pounds, it was time to have a baby shower for her. So all of us ladies descended on Terrell to celebrate Baby Watson.
(Great video of her and her parents here.)  

Watson Jean is one teeny tiny baby. 

Ann was under the weather and couldn't make it but Kathleen did come, all the way from Birmingham.  Another weekend away in the company of wonderful friends, another reason to celebrate.

Sixty one is pretty cute, too.
(Although truthfully only Allison and I are there- the rest have later birthdays.)
Liddy, Peggy, Kathleen, M. Anne, Allison and me in front.)

I am all about the celebrations. We need to find our joy where we can.

Yep. We found our joy!


And while we there I got to do a little plumbing. Liddy dropped an earring back down the drain. It was a locking back made especially for her earring, not an easy one to replace.  I assured her that was not a problem. I grew up wearing hard contact lenses. They were always slipping down the drain and my mother taught me many moons ago how to disconnect that pipe under the sink to retrieve lost items.  (She was a contact wearer, also.)  Like mother like daughter like daughter...
Teach your kids how to do stuff, it gives them power.   It's a good thing.