Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Where Art Thou PSL

I have been soooooooo patient.  So very patient.  This hot weather is driving me crazy but I will really miss it and be complaining (sorry, but get ready for it) when I am freakin' freezin' in Jan/Feb.

I WANT A PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE, DARN-IT!!!!!  I have been googling and stalking the Starbucks official FB page but no mention of my favorite treat in 2015.  I only get a few of them this year because I am on a #VegasDiet through our trip in early November.

If you have the scoop...let me know. ;)



Let me tell you about my favorite things about fall...

Monday, August 10, 2015

George Observatory

On Saturday night I went to the George Observatory in Brazos Bend State Park to view the stars with two of my friends.  Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh wait, wasn’t that a #BucketList item??????  Yep!!!  I am ON A ROLL! :)

We got there around 7:15 pm (it’s about 1.5 hours from Houston) and went straight to the gift shop to see if there was an ornament to add to my collection.  I try and get an ornament each time I complete a bucket list item or travel to a new place.  There weren’t any ornaments at the gift shop, but there was a patch that had the observatory, so I just bought that.  My options were a patch or a pencil, I chose the patch. :)  I can easily add a ribbon to the back to make it an ornament. 

We had a few minutes to walk around so we went to the lake/swamp to see if we could find any alligators sticking their heads out of the water.  We didn’t have any luck but we did see several huge frogs.  We were looking away from the lake when we heard a huge splash.  By the time we whipped our head around, whatever it was went back into the water, but we could still see the ripples.  It must have been either an alligator or a big fish.  Who knows.


The light poles have little information boards about different stars/planets/constellations/asteroids.


We went to a short lecture (about 30 minutes) at 8 pm where they tell you a little information about what you will be seeing in the telescopes.  A lot of it went waaaaaaaaay over my head (even though I took two semesters of Astronomy in college) but it was interesting. 

After the lecture it had turned dark and we got in line for the big telescope.  There are three dome stations (2 small and 1 large) and also several amateur people with their telescopes too.  They take a group of about 10 people in at a time to the big telescope and let you look through the really powerful machine.  After an 1.5 (ish) hour wait, we finally saw a globular cluster.  This cluster was in the Hercules constellation, but I am not sure which one it was.  I think it started with an M.


Anyway, they said that it had about half a million stars in this cluster.  They didn’t count each star because the stars are constantly moving and they can’t tell if they counted one or not.  To guesstimate the number of stars, they took a picture, counted the stars within the picture and used the size to make an educated guess as to how many stars are in the cluster.  Pretty cool.


One more thing:  BRING BUG SPRAY!!!!  OMG.  Seriously.  I was being bit by mosquito after mosquito, even through my pants!  We bought some mosquito repellent wipes but they were still snacking on us. 


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Happy 2nd Birthday Kali!

My niece, Kali Claire, turns two today!!!  I love you sweet (bratty) girl!  I am so glad that God brought you into our life a year ago when you moved here.  I am very honored to be your Aunt Steffie.

I buy a lot of her clothes (I can't help it, the clothes are so cute!) and the other day she was wearing a cute flamingo outfit that I bought (duh!).  I said "Oh, Kali Claire, who is your stylist?  That flamingo outfit is really cute." and she said "Steffie".   LOL.


Princess

Sitting on her princess thrown

Wearing the dress I bought her in Cozumel

Cool shades.

Movie night

This is her "I can't party until I'm 21??" face :)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Universal Studios Hollywood

FYI:  I changed my picture page to this link instead of the old one.  Go here for more pictures.

Last weekend I traveled to Los Angeles with work to host a special cocktail reception for some of the Special Olympics delegation that were in town for the World Games. I flew in on Friday morning and the reception was that night.  The next morning I took an Uber car to Universal Studios in Hollywood to spend the day there.  Originally one of my co-workers was supposed to come with me, but she had to change her flight to that day for a family issue, so it was just me at the park!


I honestly liked being on my own at the park.  I didn’t have to ask anyone what they wanted to do next or where they wanted to eat, I just did what I wanted to do.  Honestly, the longer I’m single the more selfish I grow. LOL. :)  I was able to go in the single rider line for all of the rides I went on, which helped with the mammoth sized crowds that were there that day.  So. Many. People.   At around 1 pm that day, the wait for The Mummy ride was 170 minutes.  CRAZY!

The first thing I did was eat lunch at the Krusty Burger in Simpson Land (Town??).  My options were fried food or fried food at all of the locations in the park, so I just tried fried food. LOL.  Who doesn’t love burgers?!  I then went to Moe’s Tavern for a “Flaming Moe” which is an orange soda that I think has dry ice at the bottom.  You get to keep the cup, but I didn’t have a bag to put it in, plus I don’t like souvenirs like that anyway.


I went to the Studio Tour line and it was REALLY LONG.  There were a few employees giving away fast passes for the tour later in the day so I got one.  He asked me how many people and I said just me, but then he said just go to the line and tell them you are a single rider and they will let you in a special line that gets you close to the front of the line.  That worked and I got on in 10 minutes!!!  It pays to be by yourself! :)


I really liked the tour, they did a great job showing you around.  You stay on the tram the entire time but you see a lot.  You see the back lot, the front lot, Jaws, WhoVille, New York sets, etc.  So much!!  The tour lasted about 45 minutes and they pack in a lot of stuff.  There were 3 ‘rides’ on the tour where you experience different special effects.  Two of the ‘rides’ (King Kong and Fast and the Furious) use special effects and green screens to enhance your experience but the “Live Movie set-Subway tunnel) has fire, rushing water, breakaway buildings and more.  I think the subway set ‘ride’ was my favorite!

They take you to see the streets of New York, a little Mexico town (with the flood waters), a western town, and even the town square they shot Back to the Future and Ghost Whisperer!  We went to the sleep little town in Jaws and saw a shark attack a poor, innocent scuba diver and then the shark had the nerve to try and attack our tram!  :)  I’m telling you, I loved the tour!!!

I went through the iconic Jurassic Park gates next and got SOAKED on the ride.  I went through the super-fast single rider line and unfortunately I made it to front of the car where you get the most wet.  Oh well, it was awesome though. At first the ride is much like the movie with it’s serene dinosaurs just eating grass but then things get wild and crazy with sparks flying and evil Raptors.  Those raptors like to eat anything!  So scary.


Transformers Ride, PowerAde Break, Ice Cream Break, attempt to ride the Mummy Ride (failed my mission), and then decided to take a break to see a movie in hopes that they crowd would disperse while I was watching Train Wreck.  I ate dinner and bought souvenirs somewhere in that break too.  I started to collect these different stretched pennies that day! I need to get one of those books to hold them in.


When I got back I went back to do the nighttime tour that was recommended.  I am SO GLAD that I went on the tour again because I saw so many things that I didn’t see the first time.  You do the basic stuff and ‘rides’ but there are a ton more lights with added special effects throughout the tour. 


I went on the Shrek attraction and then called it a day to return to my hotel to sleep before my super early 4 am wake-up call.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

Haters Gonna Hate

I’ve been thinking a lot about the haters of the world lately.  Or at least haters of my little world.  I have decided to not live my life by what they say.  They are miserable people who want you to be miserable too. Seriously!  Misery loves company.

Do the haters pay your bills?  Then why the heck would you listen to them? 




Be happy!   Live your life the way you want to live it.  When they see you successful those people will be the ones who want to know how you did it but they might still talk behind your back.  LOL.  


So party on party people! :)
I love these cute cats!!!!  


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Weekend Happenings


This weekend I almost got another Bucket List item checked off, but no such luck.  I bought tickets to the Best Damn Food Truck Festival, but it turned out so awful that I requested a refund on my credit card.

It all started great, but quickly turned south when we got there.  I picked up my friend Tracie and her friend (who is now my new friend) Jennifer at Tracie’s house.  I had bought two tickets online because the FB group said that they were about to sell out, but Jennifer did not have a ticket.  So we made a sign in the hopes that someone would have an extra ticket for purchase. 

We got there and had to pay $12 to park.  I completely understand that you need to pay to park, we just weren’t expecting it since it didn’t say it on the website.  When we got out of the car, Jennifer immediately started holding up her sign and as luck would have it, two girls saw it and told us that they had just thrown away two tickets!  Jennifer and Tracie went trash digging (the papers were on the top) and got two tickets for free!   We stood in line for about 30 minutes and finally made our way in the parking lot.

It was really hot so we went to get a drink right away.  You weren’t allowed to bring in any drinks, so we had to pay $5 for water.  Rip-off city.  They were selling beer and soda for $8 but since it was so hot and we couldn’t bring anything in, we had to pay it. 

We got in line for a food truck but they ran out of food.  We got two samples (two trucks=20 minutes line each) and then three consecutive trucks ran out of food.   That’s right; three different trucks all ran out of food in a row as we were standing in line for at least 10 minutes each.  We got a grand total of 3 samples in the hour and a half that we were there.  They were all small samples instead of the ‘ample’ amounts that were promised.


We weren’t expecting huge samples, just more than one bite!  We paid $36 each ticket for 3 small samples.  That’s $12 each!  For a sample.  Between the long lines, hot sun, no shade, no tents, no place to sit, small samples, and truck that ran out of food, we were done.  When we left, 11 trucks were out of food and they still had hours left to go in the ‘festival’.  We read comments on their FB page that others were just as unhappy as we were.  Some of the food trucks themselves said that the organizers had sold 3,500 tickets but only told them to prepare for 1,000 people.  How does that math work?  

Needless to say, the comments (from everyone) on FB are not good.  People are demanding refunds and tagging the media to get involved.  I googled the event and found the group organizer named Sean Jaehne.  Apparently he did the same thing last year and is even trying to get a Kickstarter campaign to back him to make this his full time job. LOL.  Yeah, right kid. 

After we left the festival we went to Joe’s Crab Shack for dinner and then Sprinkles cupcakes for dessert!  We were planning on going inside but we parked in the back and found the cupcake ATM on accident!  Yes, there is a cupcake ATM at the Houston Sprinkles location.  You just tap the screen, select the cupcake you want, swipe your credit card and out comes your cupcake!  Super cool.



The rest of the weekend was spent hanging in my pool and going to my favorite church!  They are organizing a school supply donation so I went to Walmart to buy school supplies for it.  I miss buying school supplies!

I also changed my toenails to Clowning Around theme from Jamberry!  They are so stinkin' cute!  My sister loves bright colors and her toes looked super cute when she bought them, so I had to get them too.

And my nails to Puppy Love!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pool Installation

What do you do when the house you are house sitting for doesn't have a pool???  You install one of course.

Free Willy even comes with it!

A plastic one that is!  I filled up the pool with water and hung out outside on Friday night with a beer.  

I started off with Blue Moon Peach, but quickly upgraded to Abita Purple Haze because Blue Moon Peach is AWFUL!  Next time I will have wine though.  Nothing says white trash more than plastic pools and beer. LOL. :) #classy

Speaking of keeping it classy, here's a story for you.  I was planning on going outside to set up the pool but needed to change clothes first after I got home from work.  The backyard has a high fence around it so I thought I would just go outside in my t-shirt and panties (oh goodness, I just said panties on-line) but at the last minute thought better of it and put on some shorts.  

I set up the pool and added the water hose to it.  I decided to put my bathing suit on so I went to the back door...but it was LOCKED!!!!  Unbeknownst to me, the lower lock on the door locks by itself.  Yep, I had locked myself out with no keys, no phone, and no beer.  

I went around to the front, but that was locked too. I went to the neighbors house to see if they had a spare key, but she didn't answer.  Can you imagine if I didn't have shorts on???  I would have been mortified having to walk down the street to a neighbors house in only a t-shirt and panties!!!  After about 20 minutes, I went back to the neighbors and luckily she answered (she had been in the shower).  She let me borrow her phone and I called my aunt's mom to come and unlock the door.  

So, long story short, my plastic white trash (but fun!) pool almost turned into a real life #keepitclassy horror story. :)

#stayclassy #wearshorts

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Venezuela Part #1

Read part #2 here.


traveled to Venezuela for 9 days for work but I was actually gone for 11 days since I had to travel to Newark before and after.  I wasn’t sure what exactly we would be doing so I just packed clothes that I would have normally worn to work. 

Someone wanted to come with me!  Silly girl.  I stayed the night at my parents house and packed everything there.  They live a lot closer to the airport than I do, plus my mom was going to drop me off, it was just easier.  Plus, I got to spend time with my family before I left.
 
Miss Kali Claire
I traveled to Newark, NJ on Monday afternoon with 2 co-workers and stayed at the Marriott close to the airport. OMG, I love the beds.  I felt like I was sleeping on a cloud the entire night.  We had to be at the airport by 6 am so I had a 4:30 am wake-up time.  So sleepy!  Normally I would just sleep on the plane but ever since Kenya, I haven’t been able to sleep on planes. Boo.  At the airport that morning, guess who I ran into?  Dr. Oz!!!
Dr. Oz!

We were taking a group of 85 people (38 kids plus chaperones and instructors) from the Bronx to Venezuela to have a workshop and performances with a famous classical director.  (for privacy reasons, I won’t name what program or for who).  We were taking a private plane to Venezuela but we still needed to get 90 people (including us) through check-in and security.  We (literally) just made it to the gate and boarded the plane before we were late.  Luckily we took a chartered plane and they had to let us all through. LOL.   The kids clapped (and screamed) when we took off and landed.  A lot of the kids had never been on an airplane, much less out of the country.

We landed and had a special reception (the kids were even on the news!) while we were waiting for our luggage to be put in the van.  We boarded 2 buses and 1 van (plus about 10 other vehicles filled with security) and made our way to the hotel. 
The Violin section practicing on stage

The next day the kids went off to their workshop + practice and the chaperones headed out to sight see.  We started off in Bolivar Square in Caracas.  We went to a governmental office, a few churches, and the burial place of Simon Bolivar and other special people from Venezuela.  Simon Bolivar’s burial site was guarded by 4 guards that stood still like the Queen’s guard in England.  Afterward, we were going to go by another park (not sure the name), but it was closed because they were practicing for a big Independence Day celebration that was happening that weekend. 


The next day was a pool day for the chaperones and I went to the beach to scout out a location for a trip on Monday with the kids.  We wanted to go to a further location, Isla Margarita, but with 100 + people, it was too far.  On the way back, our driver killed a cat.  It was so sad!  I was checking my email one minute and then we were slamming on the brakes the next, but still hitting something.  I looked back and see this sweet looking orange and white cat trying to claw its way off the road.  I wanted to go back and take it somewhere, but they wouldn’t stop because it might have diseases.  At least put the poor thing out of its misery.  It was awful.  The rest of the trip all the other security guards kept calling him (teasingly)  cat killer-no sure how to say it…it started with an M…matagatos or something.

We went to a chocolate shop on Friday (read this post) and a beautiful church that was hand crafted all the way from Romania.  This church is made up of over 15,000 pieces of wood with no nails.  After they told us about the tour they offered to bless each of us with holy water (if we wanted to be blessed) and told us which Saint was watching over us.  The walls were hand painted pictures of Jesus and special events of his life like birth, baptism, turning water into wine, death, resurrection, etc).  The church was so beautiful  that you could stare for hours and see different things.

We went shopping at a local souvenir shop afterward!  I collect Christmas ornaments from each place I visit but I could not find one there.  I settled for a magnet that says Venezuela that I am just going to hot glue a ribbon to. #crafty  I brought $200 with me (not wanting to spend it all) but only exchanged $30 at the official exchange rate.  I looked like a drug dealer with all the cash!  $30 goes a long way in Venezuela.  Actually, the exchange rate guy gave us mostly 20's so we had to pay everything in small denominations.  
 
$30 worth of Bolivars (I think that's what they are called)
On Saturday we were able to watch the kids in concert at the prettiest concert hall!  It was filled with hand crafted wood and had the prettiest fabric on the chairs.  The kids (both from the Bronx and Venezuela) took the stage and I was blown away!  You would have thought they were adults with how well they were playing.  On one song they got up and danced while still playing their instruments!  It was so cute.  They got about 3 encores and kept playing!  We were so proud of them. :)  We weren't allowed to take pictures during the performance, so you will just have to see the empty auditorium!


Monday we went to the beach!  It was a relaxing day full of sand and sun.  We rented out a private beach close to the airport so our security team could keep an eye out for us.  I didn’t swim, but I did put my feet in the water and walked along the beach.  The waves kept crashing on the other side of the rocks and I kept trying to take a picture of the splash, but no such luck.  My camera was doing something funky the entire time, so the pictures were all kind of weird.


Tuesday was our last full day in Venezuela, we would be flying back the next day.  We went to an area with cable car that took us waaaaaaaaay high into the mountain.  Once at the top, you could see the city of Caracas on one side (Caracas is in a valley) and the ocean from the other side.  It was really cloudy so you couldn’t see the ocean, but we knew it was down there! :)
 
My camera was acting funky and has a weird fog over it.  
There was an entertainer that dressed up like a female riding a donkey and did a dance.  It was super cute.  Afterwards we were taking pictures with him. 



It was a sad day, but we had to leave  Venezuela behind to return to our everyday lives.  The flight back was uneventful and we made it New York safely.  I flew to Houston the next morning and took the rest of the day and the next off.  3.5 day weekend!  I needed it after working 11 straight days!

For more pictures, go here.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Birthday Stops

For my 33rd birthday, I just spent the day with myself. Haha.  I got my hair blown out, went resale shop shopping (I love resale shops!), got a calorie free (ha!) cupcake, and stopped at Buck-ee’s.

I had an early morning appointment at Dry Bar in River Oaks to get my hair blown out.  I have always wanted to go (Bucket List item!!!) and decided to treat myself for my birthday.  Everyone always says that they are addicting, but I honestly wasn’t that impressed.  It’s just like when you go to the hair salon to get your hair cut and they style it for you at the end.  Is it worth $50?

The Dry Bar location was very nice though.  It was decorated with whites, grays and yellows.  Even the hair styling tools were yellow.  They thought of all the details.

They bring you to the back to wash your hair.  This was the main part where I did not like it.  Usually I love getting my hair washed by other people, but this girl was digging into my scalp with her nails!  It really hurt.  She asked me about the water temperature, but didn’t ask about the pressure of her nails.  I am not a delicate flower, I can usually take pain ok, but man. 

After they wash your hair, they lead you back to the front chairs to choose what style you wantyou’re your hair.  You choose from a menu of about 8 choices.  I couldn’t decide between Mai tai (beachy waves) or Cosmo (curly) but luckily there is a combo of both!   If I go again (not to the same person) I would choose the ‘big hair’ option called Southern Comfort. 

While doing your hair, you can get a free mimosa! 
 
Finished hair!
After I finished getting my hair done, I went shopping at a few favorite resale stores.  I love shopping at resale stores, you can get great deals.  I even found some deals that I can sell online for a big profit. Score!

I went to one of my favorite cupcake places afterwards, Rise Cupcakes in Friendswood, TX.  Calories do not count on your birthday!  Ha!  My favorite cupcake there is Strawberry Fields, it is delicious.



My last stop was Buckee’s for an icee and saltwater taffy (I’m telling you, calories don’t count!).  I would have stayed out later to meet a friend for dinner, but the impending storm and flooding was making its way to the area, so I just decided to head home.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cacao de Origen (with a real life Willy Wonka)

Meanwhile, on my trip to Venezuela.....(more to come)

On Friday we went to tour a chocolate shop and factory called Cacao de Origen where they make chocolate and we met a real life (hottie) Willy Wonka named Bernardo!  Let me explain why I nicknamed him this….
  1. He owned a business where they make chocolate
  2. He wore purple pants (bright purple)
  3. He had crazy curly hair (not crazy bad, but crazy curly)
  4. He was very passionate about chocolate (cacao)
  5. There were Oompa Loompas (OK, I might have made that up-but they were probably hiding in the back where we couldn’t see them)


See?  He was a real life Willy Wonka!   

Anyway, he was very passionate about cacao and bringing it back to Venezuela as a major industry.  In the past, cacao used to be a major industry, but when they discovered oil in the 30’s they dropped cacao and focused on oil. 



He could talk for hours about chocolate!  Seriously.  I have never seen someone that was this passionate about what they did, it was very sexy. Guys in the states aren’t passionate about anything (well, that might not be true) and to see a guy care so much was very interesting.  I fell in love. :)   (I hope he never reads this because that would be embarrassingly awkward.  I’m sure he’s married or something.)

Cacao de Origen

Anyway, we took a tour of his shop and the space where they manufacture the chocolate and then proceeded to almost buy out the store.  They were selling cakes, hot chocolate, bombones and more.  It smelled so good in there!  I kept singing the song “Hot Chocolate” from the Polar Express in my head for the rest of the day (minus the tap dance moves.......that would have been weird).

We had a taste test after the tour where we had to rate the different bars.  I couldn’t tell you which was which or anything about the different ones except that I liked #3 the best, but he knew all about it and was dissecting the flavors.  I’m telling you-----he was very passionate (in a good way) about his career.  It was really refreshing to see someone that cared about what they were doing. 


I bought tons of chocolate (mainly for my nephews and coworker gifts) plus some little gummies for Kali Claire.  They were gummies in different colors (red, green, yellow, and orange) that were cut in small squares.  My mom picked me up from the airport (my car was in the shop getting the bumper fixed) and Kali was with her.  Kali is learning her colors so we played a game when I gave each one to her.  I would say the name of the color and she would have to repeat to me before I gave it to her.  After a while she would just shout out the color that she wanted and refused to take any other one. My mom left them in the car when they got home (they had already dropped me off to get my car) but left the gummies in the car.  Well, we live in Texas so they melted. Whomp whomp whomp.  They come in a petri dish type container so with all of the mixed colors, it looked like a bad science experiment.  Haha.  I'm sure it is still tasty though.  I put it in the fridge but I haven't been back to my parents house to check on it.




Check out Willy Wonka’s companies, Cacao de Origen and Kakao Chocolates