Friday, January 30, 2015

Cruise Booked



I am sooooooo excited!!!  I just booked a cruise with my friend Clarissa in May!  I have never been on a cruise before and this has always been a bucket list item!  We booked a 7 Day Western Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean cruise line.  We will be going to Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel during our trip.  I have already been to Roatan (my aunt has a vacation house there), but never to Belize or Cozumel.


Does anyone have any cruise tips for us?  Want to come with us (friends only please, no internet strangers!)?  Our trip cost $571 each with taxes and fees, which I think is reasonable.  We still have to pay for excursions once we dock, but everything else (like food and on ship entertainment) is included.   It works out to be about $82 per night, which is about the same if we were to pay for airfare/hotel/etc for a domestic trip.


Now on to the weight loss part of the trip.  I have gained sooooooo much weight in the past year due to various things and I need to get back on track!  As you can see on my countdown clock I created, I have 3 months (ish) left!  I figure if I can hunker down and really focus for the next 3 months, I can lose some serious weight for the trip.  My plan is to eat at home more (I’ve been doing better) and do a few cycles of the 21 Day Fix.  21 Day Fix focuses on portion control (see the below picture with the colorful boxes), 8-30 min workouts that focus on different areas (so you will only do the same workouts a few times), plus other stuff that I don't remember.

 

I have had the 21 Day Fix for a few weeks now, but I haven’t fully committed.  I am a person who needs a major goal to strive for (like a marathon) before I kick my booty in gear.  I have created a tracker for my workout area (another post to come) to have a visual reminder with.  I will tell you that my tracker involves colorful stickers, a calendar, and gold/silver sharpies.  :)






Anyone want to do the 21 Day Fix with me?  My friend Krista can hook you up with it.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bingo in the Heights

Last Thursday a group of friends went to Bingo in the Heights.  Let me tell you, I have never had so much fun playing bingo!  I got off work at 5:30 pm and headed straight there.  Luckily, a group of friends were saving a spot for me because it was PACKED!  There are tons of long tables, but there wasn’t a seat in the whole place if you hadn’t gotten there early. 


Most bingo places you go there are little old ladies with their troll dolls and other good luck symbols, but at Bingo in the Heights, most everyone is on the younger side.  Plus, NO SMOKING!!!!!  I love it when I go places that are nonsmoking.  Most of the bingo halls I have been to have all been smoking (or at least have a smoking area) and you leave smelling like an ash tray-YUCK!


It is a minimum of $5 to play and you can buy extra bonus cards for $1 each.  A friend let me borrow a dabber; otherwise it would have been another $1.  They also have food and drinks available, but you can bring your own.  You can bring your own wine and liquor, but just not beer and mixers.  I ended up bringing some Chex Mix and I bought a soda there.  (I am trying to stop the soda addiction again!)
 
Flash back:  Who remembers drinking these in high school?  Or for the good kids out there, college?! Luckily I can afford better drinks. :)


During the game people kept saying “Corners” and we did too.  I just kept saying it since everyone at my table did too, but it turns out that if you get all four corners (in a ‘regular’ bingo game-straight line) that is considered a Bingo!  WHAT?!  Crazy talk!  I had NO idea.  Someone won towards the end of the night with a four corner bingo and I found that information out.  So upsetting!  Here I was, just minding my own business, saying ‘Corners’ every once in a while, then BAM, someone wins and I didn’t know.  BUT now I know and I will forever know.  Bonus:  You guys know that now too! 


Anyway, throughout the game, when someone won, people would boo them. LOL. At all of the other places I have been too, they sigh and grumble, but I have never heard someone boo’d.  It was so funny.  It was all in fun and not mean at all, don’t worry!  I was happy for people who won, even though I boo’d people too.  People (our table, lol) even made “BOO” signs from the bingo dabbers to hold up when someone won!


When they called out O69, everyone was like “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH 69”.  Too funny!  They were like silly teenagers.



I did not win or even come close that night, but I had so much fun it made up for it!  (Actually I would rather have been super bored and won. :)  )

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rodeo Houston Meeting

Last night was the last HLSR meeting (for my committee) before the Rodeo starts in March!   Our meeting started at 6:30 pm, but everyone gets there a bit early for free drinks and food!  We were able to pick up the 2015 gold committeeman badge and it is awesome looking!  It’s so shiny!


If you don’t know what the badge is for, basically it shows that you are a volunteer for the rodeo on a specific committee.  There are over 31,000 committee members and it would be hard to know who each of them are.  They give each of us a gold badge to get in to the concerts and carnival for free plus one guest.  We can sit anywhere in the arena, but if someone comes and says you are sitting in their seat, you have to move to another one.  Plus, we get a free parking pass as well.  If you are interested in signing up for a committee, let me know and I will tell you how to do it! :)


At the meeting they gave us updates on the committee, recognized members with year milestones (5, 10, 15 years, etc), and reminded us to sign up for shifts.  They also mentioned that the Houston Rodeo was on track to sell out 13 of their concerts this year!!!  There was also a person who was giving away copies of the art that was won at past years school art auctions.  I was able to take a beautiful piece of art home from the winner of the 2012 art competition.  Isn’t it beautiful??!!!  I can’t wait to frame it and hang it up.  They only reprint 2,500 of each piece and mine was #15.  Pretty cool.




Are you ready for the Rodeo?????  I am!  I can’t wait to see the concerts and ride the carnival rides.  Speaking of the carnival, don’t forget to purchase half price carnival tickets NOW (GO HERE).

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Sad, A Happy, and an Anniversary


A Sad-Last Sunday would have been Jabba’s 4th Adoptiversary and today he has been gone for four months.  I miss you buddy, here’s some catnip treats for you up in Heaven!


A Happy-This Sunday my family and I are trying out to be on the Family Feud!!!  Survey says:  I will let you know how it goes. I probably won’t be able to give you too much info because of the contract we have to sign.  We drive to Austin on Sunday morning for the tryouts, compete against several different families, and if they like us, they will fly us out to Atlanta this summer.  Super fun! If you and your family want to try out for the Family Feud, go here.  Our team is my sister Laura, my aunt Laura (Roger's wife), Laura's sister Katie, Katie's husband, Scott.  Wish us luck!!!



An Anniversary-Two years ago today, I ran my first (and probably, only!!!) marathon!!!!!! Doesn’t time fly?  I remember the next day my legs were on FIRE!  I started the 21 Day Fix on Sunday and my legs are burning just like they were that day (only not 26.2% less). #memories #26.2Hurts #CanIBeatMyTime #rainandcold

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ramblings

I have been thinking about “things” lately. “Things” as in material possessions that I own and that are currently sitting in storage at a rate of $160 per month, just waiting for me to pick them up and use them again.  $160 a month is $1920 per year.  We’ll come back that that number.

Did you ever read the Hunger Games or watch the movies?  The Hunger Games talks a lot about the ‘rich’ people in the Capital with their silly hair and clothing.  The Capital residents have tons of wealth and they spend it frivolously.  Well, the people in the Districts think the Capital residents look ridiculous and spend frivolously because the District residents have next to nothing and are starving to death!  The Capital residents buy new clothes, the latest electronics, fancy houses, etc. while the Districts are only allowed to work in awful conditions for next to no money.  They have to provide for the needs of the Capital, you see.  They Capital residents would take throw-up pills so they can keep eating until they tried all the food at the parties while the districts were fighting over the last grains of wheat.

Now, change The Capital with the USA and change The Districts with 3rd world countries.  Who is spending a ton on new electronics, $20,000 health treatments a month (I’m looking at you Gwyneth), shiny cars, and fancy vacations.  Most Americans are in debt up to their eyeballs to pay for it all.  What kind of country are we building?  Who are we trying to impress with our stuff?  I can tell you that we aren’t impressing other countries in the world.  China owns a lot of the USA and many, many, many other countries.  Who buys the trillions in debt America has?  Foreign countries!  When the USA collapses, who do you think will come to our aid?  Who will try to take us over?  Ummm, probably the people who own us.  Think about it!  Do you want to be like China?!

Compare the obese Americans with too much money to the poor kids with protruding bellies because they lack food and nutrients.  (I’m overweight myself, but I am just making the connection). 

Quick story:  When I was in Kenya, on the safari tour, I had the most excellent server.  He would entertain us, serve us, answer questions, etc.  He told me that he has to walk home about 50 kilometers (partially through a safari with wild beasts!) to get home on his few vacation days he has.  His monthly wage is less than I make in a day and he could never dream of taking a trip to the US because it would cost him several years’ salary for the ticket.  At the end of the trip, I tipped him the equivalent of about $30 and I was told it was way too much from our driver.  I told him that I would normally spend about that for 1 meal at a normal restaurant at home (a nicer meal) and I got several meals and entertainment out of his services.  I didn’t feel like it was too much, but now that I am thinking back, was that rude?  I didn’t tip him any more than I would have in the States, but was I considered a ‘rich American’?  I certainly wasn’t rich and I wasn’t trying to overstep my boundaries.

So, back to the storage payment of $1920 per year.  What else can be done with that money instead of hosting all my ‘much needed’ stuff to fill my large 1 bedroom apartment?  I mean, you have to have a large apartment filled with stuff to impress the (inexistent) people to come over. (Sarcasm font)   I have a ton of kitchen supplies and I rarely cook!  I have tons of books that I read once and stacked on a shelf.  I could go on, but I won’t.  I literally have a 10x10 storage unit filled with my stuff.


Could I use that money to fund missions overseas? Could I fund shelters for animals and homeless people?  Could I go on mission trips and help people in other countries?    Think about this, if you just donated the cost of the mission trip to a charity in that country and you had not gone, how far would that $2,000-$4,000 carry them in their mission?  Why don’t we donate that money?  Because we want the ‘experience’ of helping the poor and to ‘help them be live and be better’ or ‘show our kids how fortunate they are’.   What is better?  Fortunate to get the newest IPhone or Xbox?  Is better being happy with what you have, your necessities (hopefully) or is it filled with consumer debt from trying to keep up with the Jones’. 

As Christians, we want to show people the love of Christ, but are we just showing the love of money and material possessions?  Christ was a King that became poor for his people.  He tells us to give our money away to the children and the widows.  Jesus tells us that it is difficult for a rich man to enter Heaven.  Do you think it is difficult for the people that have lower incomes from you to relate to you?  I can’t relate to millionaires and how they spend money, I can only imagine that is how other countries see us.  You show up with your Kendra Scott earrings and your Banana Republic jeans,  (I’m guilty of it too) and expect them to relate to you when your outfit might cost more than what they make all year.  How humble can you be?

That’s all my thoughts just rambled together.  I really wasn’t planning on making this a Christian themed post, it just sort of came out that way towards the end. 


Enough about my thoughts, what do you think?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Palo Duro Canyon and the American Quarter Horse Museum

After we were done sightseeing at Cadillac Ranch and Route 66, we headed to Palo Duro Canyon to hike the trails.  Palo Duro Canyon is the 2nd largest canyon in the USA and is nicknamed The Grand Canyon of Texas.  I have never seen the Grand Canyon at all, so driving into this canyon was AMAZING!!!!  I had no idea we had a canyon that big in Texas. 



It was so weird that you were driving and the land was flat, flat, and more flat, and then all the sudden here comes a HUGE canyon in the middle of nowhere.   The cost to get into the park is $5 per person and there is a bathroom right at the entrance gate.  The bathroom had been converted from an old well and still had the water marking gauge inside. 



 We got out and took pictures at a viewing area and I can’t begin to show you how beautiful this place is.  I only brought my phone so my pictures are not the best, but honestly, BEATIFUL!!!  I really wanted to hike the 6 mile round trip Lighthouse trail, but my friends didn’t want to.  I started out on the trail solo, and got about 1.5 miles in, but then turn around so I wouldn’t have to keep my friends waiting.  I felt bad leaving them and I didn’t have cell service to tell them to come back for me.  

The Light House Trail is mostly flat, and I would think kids could go on it (depending on the age), but no strollers because on part you literally have to climb up.  Dogs should be OK.


We went to the Trading Post to look for souvenirs and then the Visitors area for more souvenirs and to view the small museum they had on site.  The museum was pretty cool and had lots of information about how the area was settled and also information about the rock formations.


After Palo Duro Canyon, we went to the American Quarter Horse Museum in Amarillo.  Personally, I am not a fan of horses (they freak me out), so I just walked around for a bit and then went to play on my phone and shop the gift shop.  The museum was interesting and told you about the biology of horses, background on how they were breed, stuff about taking care of horses, etc.  They also had lots of trophies and memorabilia about horse competitions and former chairmen of the AQHM. 


If you like horses or are interested in them, it might be worth going.  I am just not a fan of them and it was boring to me.  However, the building is beautiful!  I would recommend the guided tour because there were times that I saw something interesting, but couldn’t find a sign as to what it was/what it meant.  Like in the Grand Hallway there were names on the walls, but no sign (that I could see) of who they were.  I thought it might be past members or officers of the AQHA, but then there was a random horse name thrown in there, so that couldn’t be it!


There was also this cool stone ancestry floor with all of these names of horses that followed the lineage of this horse, but it didn’t tell you who the horse was.  Then there was a random horse name at the top with an asterisk, but not explanation as to why!   I was so confused!  If someone wants to explain that to me (which it probably was explained on the guided tour), I am all ears.

The gift shop is really cool there too! Check it out. I wanted to buy LOTS of stuff.


Next stop…bucket list item #3!!!!!   The Big Texan 72 oz. Steak Challenge.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Visiting Cadillac Ranch

After we visited Route 66, we traveled to CadillacRanch!  I have wanted to visit Cadillac Ranch for YEARS!!!  YEARS!  I had never been to West Texas but I have heard about Cadillac Ranch and knew I wanted to visit it. 

Apparently, for years some local people have been lobbying to tear down Cadillac Ranch because it’s an eyesore (but a beautiful/cool/unique one, I say!), but the eccentric millionaire owner had always been able to stop them from tearing it down.  However, this past July the owner died and people are unsure if the fate of the famous landmark.  Just in case it is to be torn down soon, I wanted to make sure that I saw it first.  That is another reason why I decided to axe the Marfa, TX lights in favor for Cadillac Ranch.  I figure that unknown natural phenomenon’s (they think) will be there for a lot longer than man-made, spray paint covered ones.



Yes, it is just a bunch (10) of old Cadillac’s stuck in the ground, but I loved it!  I had three cans of spray paint that I had used for various craft projects, so I brought them with me.  I had heard that the local Home Depot sold more cans of spray paint than any other store in the country.  How cool is that?


We arrived at Cadillac Ranch and it was freakin’ freezin’!  I mean cold, man.  I had my new gloves and hat, but I didn’t want to wear the gloves because they might get paint on them (my fingers did, so I know I would have ruined the gloves).  Each of us was armed with a can of spray paint and went to town on painting the Cadillac’s.


There were about 20-30 people there when we arrived, ranging from kids to older adults.  The paint was so thick on the Cadillac’s!  Someone next to me found a paint chip next to me on the ground and it was at least an inch thick!  Crazy!  I can only imagine what the difference will be when they pull the Cadillac’s from the ground and you can see the front end with no paint.


After we had our fill of spray paint and the cold weather, we decided to pack it up and head on out.  We gave our cans of spray paint to other people that were walking through the gate.  I didn’t want to take it back home and some of the people didn’t have any in their hands.  Share the wealth, I say!



Right down the street from Cadillac Ranch is a RV camp that has Cadillac Ranch souvenirs ranging from t-shirts to postcards to magnets to guitar picks.  I got a Cadillac Ranch pin that I am going to make an ornament from with felt and a ribbon (or some other sort of craftiness medium).

Bucket List item #2 for the day is complete!

For more pictures of this trip, go here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Traveling Down Route 66

We got up the next morning to a cold and chilly morning in Amarillo.  I hadn't realized that Amarillo was part of the famous Route 66 and I realized that I could check off another bucket list item!!!!!!!!!  If all went well, I could get three done in one day!

We got directions from the front desk at the hotel and headed that way.  The famous Route 66 in Amarillo is off of 6th Street and Georgia.  From I-40 you exit Georgia and take a right (or left depending where you are coming from) and went all the way to 6th Street and took a left.  There were a ton of antique shops (and tattoo parlors-weird!) on that street.  We got there around 9 am, but the stores didn’t open until 10 am (this was a Saturday-I think they open earlier on the weekdays). 

We took some pictures of the signs but we were so cold that we decided to go get some hats/gloves beforehand and then come back.  *We actually went to Cadillac Ranch next, but for the purpose of this story we will pretend we went straight back to Route 66 after we got some warm clothing items!


After we got our hats and gloves it was after 10 am and we headed back to a cute store that we saw some Route 66 items through the window.  It was an antique store but also a souvenir shop and I found a cute postcard and magnet.  I was really looking for an ornament for my tree, but I couldn't find one.  I decided just to buy a magnet and add a ribbon to it with a hot glue gun.  Simple!

Quick story:  I decided that when I travel from now on, I will buy an ornament at each place I visit or when I complete a bucket list item, I will try and buy one then too.  I don’t want one for souvenirs when other people travel, only when I travel somewhere.  Doesn't that sound like a fun tree?!


Anyway, after we went to Route 66 we visited some other cute antique shops and we almost went to get an ice cream at the place across the street but we were too cold and it wasn’t quite lunchtime yet.


Bucket list item #1 of the day completed!  Route 66 was fun!  For more pictures, go here.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Roadtrip to Amarillo

I was looking over my Bucket List the other day and noticed that I have only completed 1 BL item this year!  I am not sure if I counted “go to a professional basketball game” as last year’s or this years, but since it was NYE, I think it was 2013.

So, only one BL item this is was unacceptable!  I do have some very valid excuses as to why I didn’t do much this year, but I wanted to finish off the year with a bang.  Next, I needed to decide which ones I wanted to accomplish on my limited time and budget resources.  A road trip sounded like a good plan and I had to decide on where to go.

I have always wanted to see the mysterious Marfa, TX lights and also Cadillac Ranch.  I had never been to West Texas and I figured while I am at one of them, I might as well go to both!  I am not sure if you are familiar with Texas, but you can drive for over a day and still not get out of the Lone Star State.  Marfa, TX is about 9 hours from Houston and Amarillo, TX (home of Cadillac Ranch) is about 8 from Houston, and about 8-9 hours in between.  Once I started to do the math and called around to check on hotels, I realized that 24 hours of driving in 3 days is not very fun and we wouldn’t get to see much.

We axed Marfa, TX and decided to only do Amarillo, TX on this road trip.  Why?  Because Marfa, TX doesn’t have much to do around it in the winter and Amarillo, TX had a lot more to offer.  I want to go to Marfa, TX maybe in the summer when I can have a longer trip and head to Big Bend State Park to swim/hike/explore.  Amarillo had two (three, but I only knew of two when we changed our plans) Bucket List items that I wanted to do, so it was an easy choice.

My friend Lili and her sister came with me on the road trip.  Lili is one of my 3 single friends I have left (yes, only three).  I headed to her house early on Friday morning (about 7:30 am) for the start of the trip.  We had reserved a car and had to pick it up; otherwise we would have left a lot earlier.

We had about an 8-9 hour drive ahead of us.  We were driving through Dallas and Wichita Falls, TX.  I was watching the Travel Channel (or one of those type shows) and saw a funny story about the World’s Littlest Skyscraper that was in downtown Wichita Falls.  You can read the full story here, but basically it was a scam that is the equivalent of $2M in today’s money (or $200K back then) that happened during the oil boom of Texas.

We couldn't find it at first but then I looked online and found a picture and was able to find the building quickly.  There is an antique store there today that allows you to go inside the ‘skyscraper’ and walk up the four floors.  It was super tiny!  The stairs took up a ¼ of the room.  It was really neat though!


After the skyscraper we went to visit the Wichita Falls Waterfall that is right off the freeway.  You can go above and below it as it falls into the local river (or canal?) that runs through town.  It is man-made, but still a really pretty waterfall.

We got back on the road and found this super cute pecan shop called Valley Pecans in Chillicothe, TX.  They had excellent fudge and even pecan flavored coffee!!  So good.  They also have cute gifts and books for purchase.


That was day 1 of our road trip to Amarillo!  Stay tuned for the bucket list items!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Handmade Earring Holder

I have been meaning to get an earring holder for awhile now.  I was just going to buy one and I googled "earring holder" and saw a whole bunch of handmade ones.  I said to myself, "self, you can totally make one of those" and I did!  My PawPaw helped me make it (he cut the wire and stapled it to the back of the frame).

The entire project cost about $10 for the frame, wire, and spray paint.


Directions for How to Make an 
Easy Handmade Earring Holder


Materials Needed:
Frame (thrift shop, baby!)
Spray paint
Wire (available outside in lawn section of most hardware stores by the chicken wire)
Staple Gun
Staples
Sandpaper (optional)


Directions:
1.  Take glass and art out of frame
2.  Use spray paint to paint frame in whatever color you wish.  Let dry.
3.  Cut wire to appropriate size of frame
4.  Staple wire to the back of the frame
5.  Use sandpaper to 'rough up' the paint to make a rustic feel (optional)
6.  Hang on the frame on the wall and add earrings

Use spray paint that adheres to the type of material you are using.  This one adheres to wood, plastic and metal.




With staples

Finished!