Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Edible Plants Class

On Saturday, I took an edible plants class in Montgomery, TX at Deer Lake Lodge and Spa with Foraging Texas.  First, I had no idea that there was a fancy spa in Montgomery.  It was a beautiful location with lots of nice buildings to relax in. (Deer Lake, if you see this, please consider bringing me to the spa and I will feature you on my blog as part of my bucket list)


 I have wanted to take an edible plants class because one day there might be zombies walking around and we can't get food.  I will be able to live off the land but y'all will be sad.  :) 

The class was from 9AM to 1PM so there was a bit of a chill in the air at the beginning.  We started in a building close to the pool and learned the basics of foraging.  He also showed us several books that he recommends if we want to get serious about foraging. I have his book, the Idiot’s Guide to Foraging but haven’t gotten a chance to read it as much as I wanted to.
This is the one I want next!

Mark taught us four rules of foraging:

  • Respect the law-Did you know it is illegal to take anything out of local or state parks?  There is a fine of $500 EACH ITEM you take.  So say you took pecans from a state park, if you get caught you can be fined for each pecan, and that could be hundreds!
  • Respect the land-leave it better than you find it.  If you dig a hole, make sure to fill it before you leave.  Take any trash too.
  • Respect the plant-Bring sharp tools to remove the section of plant.  If you cut a small section, the plant heals faster than if you tear it going all the way down.  There is lots of fungi just waiting to get into the plants and if there is a big tear, the plant can’t heal as quickly and is more susceptible to disease.
  • Respect yourself-Make sure you verify the plant is edible before you eat something.  Look for 5 things that match up to be sure you have identified it correctly. On mushrooms, be sure to identify about 8-10 things to be sure.

We started with the plants along the pathways near the pool and then worked our way to the woods. 


At one point, my A.D.D. got the better of me and I walked away from the group to look at the pond.  I saw some fish while I was close to the pond, but then walked back.  A few minutes later, I went back and noticed a white rock close to the edge. After inspecting it a little closer, it turns out it was an alligator!!!  Oh my.  I ran back to the group and suggested we move.  Everyone was apparently fascinated though and went to take a look.  We think the alligator was either being super still or in a mini hibernation since it was not fully covered with mud and muck.





  • We learned that the Crepe Myrtles are like cinnamon in controlling blood sugar levels.


  • Turks Cap leaves can be cooked and they taste like spinach.


  • Reishi Mushrooms are the best medicinal mushroom and 2 commercial cancer medications use reishi mushrooms in the ingredients. 


  • Pine tree leaves (which are everywhere here!) have a ton of Vitamin C and pound for pound they have as much as lemons and oranges.  Vitamin C is essential for the body but the body doesn’t hold on to it so you need a source every day.


  • Magnolia tree leaves are made into a tea in China that has cancer fighting properties.  The tea tastes similar to ginseng.

He also talked about Lions Mane Mushroom and Hericium Mushrooms that taste like lobster and help with dementia.  We didn’t see that mushroom, he only told us about it along with a semi-local mushroom farm called Indian Creek Mushroom Farm.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Numbers

I was browsing Reddit the other day and found a link to this article, from Wait but Why.  It talked about how long you have left to live (average person) vs. what you can do in that time based on what you do on average.

Say that the average death year is 80 years old (I'm too lazy to google the actual number) and you are 35 right now.  How many times do you have to do your favorite things?

This can be sort of a morbid way to look at things or it can motivate you to DO MORE with your life.  We aren't guaranteed to make it to 80, so this list can be even shorter!  What if I'm 40 or 50 or 60 or somewhere in between when I go?  This list would be cut drastically.

For example, my favorite place in the entire world is Garner State Park.  I love the trees, the river, the hills, everything.  I go on average about every other year.  So, in theory I only have 22.5 more times to go.  And that is only if I live until that long or don't more too far away to drive up there all the time.



I do an average of 12 bucket list items a year.  (Sometimes more, but I shoot for at least 12)  That means I only have time to do 540 more if I do an average of 12 a year.  So, I can either pick 540 to do or get busy and do MORE!!!  I'm going to choose to get busy.  I have one this weekend and I did one on Monday!  If for some reason I can't hike the Grand Canyon or Machu Picchu one day, I need to prioritize to do that when my knees don't hurt.  Or if it is to go to a certain event or meet a certain celebrity, I need to make sure I do that early on because it could be an instance like meeting Richard Simmons.  I am so glad I did that before he closed his studio and retired.

My goal is to travel to one new city and one new country each year.  I didn't go to a new country this year, but I did go to a few new cities, including Washington DC. So, if I continue this way I can only see 45 more of each OR try and double up on my trips.  So, out of all the cities in the USA and all the countries in the World, I only get to go to 45 more.  My personal rule is that if I'm paying for it, I am only going to new places.  My family goes to Honduras a lot, but I have been there so many times.  Don't get me wrong, it's paradise and I love it, but if I have limited time and money, it makes more sense for me to go to new places.

There is a spot in Nacogdoches that as soon as I get there, my body feels "home".  Literally every time I pass it my heart says "I'm home".  It is such a great feeling.  I don't get to Nac as often as I used to now that I don't know too many people there.  I still go back often for Driving Jacks events, but not for SFA events.  I need to make that more of a priority. So if I go back once every other year (not including Driving Jacks events), I have 22.5 more times to be "home". Dude, I got tears when I saw that number.

I read about a book a year, but I honestly want to change that.  Maybe one of my 2017 resolutions will read 1 book a year, but I will be conservative and say 6 books a year (one every other month).  That is 270 books that I can read.  Since I love books (even though I haven't read as many as I could) I need to make a list of the top books I want to read instead of just reading some to read some.

You know, sometimes God grants you things in your heart, sometimes he gives you even more blessings than you can imagine.  I always thought I would be a mom, but now I have decided to stop focusing on the things I can't change and become the World's Best Aunt.  Yep, I am going to spend the rest of my life striving for that trophy because I am a pretty cool aunt. :)  I may or may not be a mom one day, but I have honestly stopped desiring to be one.  If it happens, it happens but I know that I'm running short on time.  So I have 45 more years to get that trophy.  I am going to spend time on the floor playing dolls, hang out in the woods and watch my nephew play in the mud, and be with my nephew while he plays video games (still can't play because I get motion sick).  I want to do things that they want to do, even if I don't feel like it because I won't always be able to do that.
My dad-Keith, sister-Tori, nephew-Cole, niece-Kali.  My other nephew, Hunter, is not pictured. This picture is from their school's fall festival day.


There have been 9 US Presidential elections since I have been on this planet and I only have 10 left.  10 more times to vote for the future of this Nation!  (My math could be wrong on this, FYI. LOL).




WHAT ABOUT YOU?!  WHAT ARE SOME THINGS ON YOUR LIST THAT YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE YOU DO??

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Shiner Beer Tour in Shiner, TX

Years ago, when I was running the Texas Independence Relay a few years ago, we passed by the Shiner Brewery in Shiner, TX.  I had heard they had a race that they sponsor (5K and Half Marathon) but I just wanted to take a tour of the facility.  I had some time off this week so I went to the tour on Monday.

Shiner, TX is about 2 hours from Houston and the drive was pretty much straight down I-10 until you get to one spot where you turn left.  The tour starts and ends in the gift shop on the property where you can buy all sorts of fun Shiner merchandise. 


The tour is free and they give you 4 free drink tokens.  They have several varieties of beer you can choose from and even have strawberry lemonade for those who don't drink.  The first round I chose a cream beer and the next time I had the lemonade.  I gave my one token to someone since I wasn't going to use it and also kept one to make an ornament out of for my Christmas tree.


We went on a tour the factory and it was so interesting!  I believe they said they make 500,000 bottles in ONE DAY!!  Crazy.  The factory is 24 hours M-F and everyone is off on the weekends.  The tour guide said it was a great company to work for and they had hardly any turnover because people like it so much. 


They showed us some cool souvenirs and memorabilia that they have received.  This chair was carved from a single tree and given to them as a gift.
In one section they were working on the "Holiday Cheer" blend.  They get orders 1 month in advance and rotate what blends they bottle depending on demand.  The tour guide said that sometimes they do a different blend during the day and evening.

It was a really cool tour and I'm glad I was able to go!  I would highly recommend the tour, even if it's just to get your drink on. :)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Amber's Wedding

This weekend was an eventful weekend in Dallas!  True story, I hardly took any pictures of this wedding.  It's hard when you are wearing a dress and don't have your purse.


I drove up on Friday afternoon and met everyone (bridal party) at a local restaurant for dinner. We got our bouquets and a cute bridesmaid makeup bag filled with goodies.

The guys went out for the bachelor party, but we all just went home. I suggested a sleepover, but Amber was too tired and had a lot of wedding stuff to do.  Funny story:  After she turned down our pre-wedding bridesmaid sleepover, she said "maybe tomorrow night" but we all (including David, the groom) looked at her like she was crazy because that would be her wedding night. She was like "oh yeah".  Really?  LOL.

The next morning we were up bright and early.  Clarissa was in charge of making the cake and I was to help decorations at the park.  Let me back up:  So Amber's dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer so they moved the wedding up from December to October (there may be a 2nd wedding that is bigger in December) so her dad could walk her down the aisle.  At the time she told us, she wasn't sure where she wanted the wedding to be so I started looking at local parks to suggest because her mind was elsewhere.  I found Samuell Farm in Forney, TX that is about 10 minutes from her dad's house and it would be an easy drive for him. Amber loved the idea because she used to go there as a kid all the time.

I got to the park about 8:30 AM and we hunted for the perfect location for the ceremony.  She had three locations in mind and she narrowed it down to one under a beautiful tree.  The only problem was that she wanted lights wrapped around the tree but there was no power source.  We located a power source but it was faaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrr from the tree.  Long story short, we spent 4 hours wrapping the tree and more time hunting for extension cords to light up the tree.  But it was zero hour and we still could not find enough power cords and were about 50 feet short.  No lights.  Sigh.  I mean, I got ant bites from that friggin' tree everywhere for nothing!  The picture above was just of the lights but we also added tulle around them so it was a softer look.  No pictures though, darn it.

The wedding turned out awesome, the bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome in his military uniform.  The ceremony was short and sweet so we headed to a local mexican restaurant for dinner.

Clarissa made the cake and the rest of the bridesmaids helped add the flowers.  Amber really liked a cake that was similar to this one so Clarissa made it with flowers we could find locally..

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

MK Museum Tour

On my final day in Dallas I decided to go to the Mary Kay Museum inside the headquarters.  I had tried to go when I was in Dallas last time and a few other times before that, but it just never happened or they were closed.  This time=Success!

The museum is open during regular business hours and I heard there was a cafeteria you could eat at, so I decided go right before lunch.  You walk in from the visitors parking and you see this graphic on the wall.  What a great thing to see first hand!




The museum is on the first floor and you walk in to a beautiful portrait of Mary Kay and her son, Richard Rogers. 


There are all types of articles in frames, old products on display, even pictures of when records were broken.  There is a National Sales Director (highest level) gallery with all of their portraits.  Outside there is a "Wall of Leaders" with each sales directors name on a brick that creates a wall.  I didn't go out there but I got the general idea from the door. ;)


I went to lunch in the cafeteria and said bye to two ladies that I had met while in the museum.  They said that they were going on a tour of Mary Kay's office and I so wanted to go too.  The security guard said I could come along if I wanted to off we went!! 


Mary Kay's office was/is on the 13th floor, her lucky/favorite number.  She died in 2001 and they left it exactly like it was when she was last in there.  I may or may not have opened a desk drawer and peeked in side.  OK, so I did (with permission)!  Inside the drawers were her actual things like files, notes from consultants, nick names, etc.  In the curio cabinets are tons of porcelain items.  The tour guide pointed out that Mary Kay  thought one of them was too pale, so she added makeup too it. I didn't get a picture of that though. Next time. :)

I got to hold her feather pen too!



She had a round couch and a two way desk so she was always equal to that person, not above them.  She wanted everyone to feel included at all times.  The chandelier is so pretty in person and the bird was a gift from her husband, Mel Ash.

They even let us peak in her bathroom.  Her old cosmetics were just sitting on the vanity, waiting to be used.  They were formulas and bottles from way back before 2001 and the tour guide said they were her actual ones.  Pretty cool.

She left no detail out.  Even her bathroom wallpaper had little bees and MK's on it.  Sorry for the bad picture!  You know you're super fancy when you have custom wallpaper.


I had to get one last selfie before I left. I'm so glad that I was able to tour the museum and her office.I didn't feel rushed at all and could truly take in all that I was seeing without anyone keeping time.  Just seeing all the old memorabilia, I could get a feel of the impact she had on many generations.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Texas State Fair

Since I was already in Dallas for the weekend, I wanted to go to the Texas State Fair!  It's a bucket list item of mind and each year I miss it.  Clarissa offered to go with me and her boyfriend Michael was also supposed to go, but he had to back out at the last minute.

We took the train down to the fair and were able to get in immediately since we bought tickets online.  We got a package for two tickets plus 100 ride/food coupons but still ended up buying an additional 40 tickets.  

They had this cool map that you could add a dot to show where you were from.  Look at all those dots!


After the shooting in Vegas, I was hesitant to go in a big crowd again, but there was a ton of security presence at the fair.  Even on the rooftops!


We were hungry when we got there and decided to try different things but split them so we could each try more.  I got a shrimp on a stick for 14 tickets that was NOT worth it.  It was three tiny shrimp covered in a sauce (the sauce was good) but not worth the equivalent of $7.  Clarissa got fried waffle covered strawberries that were delicious!  It was a strawberry covered in chocolate, dipped in waffle batter and then fried.  YUM!

Next we walked around and I entered a few contests that I hope I win. LOL.  Someone's has to win, why can't it be me?!?!  We tried Maple Bacon Margaritas that were basically a regular margaritas with bacon bits on top.  So far I wasn't too impressed by the eatin' at this fair.  

I even saw Big Tex!


We went shopping next and then ate some more.  I mean, come on, you have to eat at a fair!  Our last and final food was a Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger and Fried Deviled Eggs.  Those two were awesome!  The deviled eggs fell apart but were still delicious!!  They were more of a chicken fried steak type of batter, rather than a funnel cake type batter.  The burger was a perfect blend of sweet and salty.  Props to the creators of those items.

We walked around some more and I was honestly looking for one of those throw a ping pong ball into a jar to win a gold fish game, but apparently those aren't a thing anymore.  So I had to ride at least one ride so I slide down the giant slide.  It was faaaaaar up and I got kind of scared of heights.  It was fun though.

  

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Vegas, Part 2

Saturday was like a 10 AM wakeup.  We were all exhausted from the night before and we didn't need to be anywhere until 3 PM.  Some of us went to get Starbucks and pizza, others stayed sleeping.  We are old ladies, people!

At 2:30 we left to walk to Planet Hollywood for our Stripper 101 class. This class was AWESOME!  I loved it.  We learned how to do a strip tease/lap dance plus we worked the pole.  So fun.  Our instructor was an ex-stripper in LA and Vegas and she showed us some moves and even taught us how to hustle for more $$.  We were clearly there as a joke class, but she made it interesting and gave us useful tips to do for our man. :)  At the end of the class she showed us some upside down acrobatic pole tricks that had us all in shock at how good she was!  I didn't realize how athletic strippers need to be.

We could all take pictures at the end, just not during class for privacy of everyone.

We even each got our own Stripper license. :)  My stage name is Ruby, by the way.  We could choose whatever stage name we wanted and if we needed help, there was a list to choose from.

After the class we went back to the hotel to change for dinner, zip-lining and Chippendale's.  Saturday was a packed day!  We got dressed (we wore the shirts my sister made) and I even wore false eyelashes for the first time ever!!!!!  I really look like my mom in this picture.


We decided to go to Downtown Vegas' Container Park area for dinner.  Container Park is an area that is made up entirely of shipping containers as the buildings.  It has restaurants and shops that you can visit and even has a huge playground for the kiddos.  We all went down the slides at the park after dinner.  It is only about a 3-5 minute walk from Container Park to the entrance to Downtown Vegas' Freemont Street.

The zipline we did was called, Slotzilla.  You can go during the day or the evening, but we chose the evening to zip past all the lights that are blinking everywhere!  We got our ziplining wristbands and went up the steps at our designated time.  We got fitted for harnesses and walked a zillion stairs to the platform.  There was a huge crowd there and it turns out it was for a Chevelle concert.  I didn't know who they were, but apparently they were a big deal.

They hooked us up to the wire and had us walk down some stairs and sit back into the harness.  They said, "Have fun" and let us go.  We made it to the concert and the crowd cheered for us as we zipped by.  So cool.  Only 6 of us (out of 7) did the zipline, the 7th person took pictures (she's afraid of heights).

After ziplining we had to book it to the Rio for the Chippendale's performance.  We made it on time and were seated in the back (the balcony-which isn't really a balcony, it's just the back row). We had free tickets so we couldn't really complain where we were seated.  The seats were still good and we could see everything.  I think we were loud enough and clapping a lot so we got moved up to the front of the room to some vacant seats!!!

Amber got to go onstage (not saying what she did *wink) and we all cheered for her.

I love Chippendale's because it was more of a show vs just strippers.  I mean, I feel so dirty holding dollar bills making them work for it.  Having tickets and dance routines classed it up a little bit.

At the end they told us to take a selfie and post it with #Chippendales and one of us would be chosen as the winner.   Can anyone guess who was the winner....ME!!!!!  I won a poster, a blinky light up necklace thing, a compact (I think, I haven't opened it yet), and lanyard.  I gave the poster back to the gift shop because, honestly, what am I going to do with a Chippendale's poster?  Calendar, maybe, but not a poster.  Sorry guys.

We wanted to take the shuttle to the Flamingo from the Rio but the shuttle driver was rude so we took a Lyft. They had given us a $10 play match (play $10 and get $10) so three of us played my $10 and agreed to split whatever we won.  Clarissa suggested we play the $20 on "ODD" since there were an odd number of us.  We doubled our $$ so we came out with $40.  I took my original $10 back, we used $10 for the Lyft ride, and we split the other $20.  Easy $30!!
Ever since seeing that movie, Big, I wanted to get my fortune out of one of those Zoltar "fortune telling" machines.  We saw one at The Rio on the same floor as Chippendale's and three of us got our "fortune".  Mine was all about travel.  Hmm.  I love travel!!

After the show we went back and did some other "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" stuff.  Sunday was spent cleaning up all the crepe paper, popping balloons, and eating the last of the jell-o shots.


Sunday
Four of them left at 9:30 AM and three of us stayed behind until our flights.  I was the only one that was leaving that evening, the other two girls were staying an additional night.  I just walked the strip and hung out the next day until my flight time.  Before I left the Flamingo, I put $10 in a slot machine and I lost money down to $4 but I did it one more time and won $17 something.  I tried one more time and lost down to $16.05 and then cashed out.  I figured $6 in winnings was better than none.  I knew I wanted to play Roulette so I found a table and played a few times.  I won all the way up to $27 and used that money to have lunch at the Flamingo Hotel buffet (not worth it).

My flight left at 7:55 PM and I got home right as the shootings (or just after) were happening.  That is the closest I have ever been (or ever hope to be) to a terrorist event.  The other girls in our group that stayed behind were in the hotel before the shootings happened and had no idea anything was happening until the next morning when they woke up to our texts.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Vegas, Baby!

First, I want to say that I am so sad about the events that happened in Vegas this weekend.  It is so sad that there are sickos in the world that hurt innocent people based on their own head issues.  I am trying really not let this be the bad experience to my trip, but it made the trip end on a sad note. I received lots of calls and texts from friends and family that knew I was there this weekend and who wanted to make sure I was OK. I flew out at 8 PM, Vegas time, and the events didn't happen til 10:00ish.  There were two women in our group (out of 7) who stayed that night and we couldn't get a hold of them, but luckily they were just sleeping and had no idea what had happened.

This is as close to a national tragedy that I have ever been, or ever hope to be.  I can't keep from watching all the news broadcasts and internet stories because I was almost in the general area.  I know if I would have stayed another night there (like two girls from our group did), I would have made my way to the Mirage Casino to watch the volcano explode, then head to the Bellagio to watch the fountains and go further down the strip towards that direction. I know this because I was thinking that on Sunday afternoon when I was getting ready to leave the strip to head to the airport.  It was, "If my plane wasn't leaving until late I would..." sort of thoughts and I know I would have been in the general area, not necessarily at the concert though.  I don't know, but this has really gotten into my brain and makes me not want to go anywhere in large crowds or take my niece/nephews there either.  I know that is letting the enemy win, but I can't help it.
____

On Friday I woke up bright and early to get dressed and head to the Hobby Airport for my Southwest Airlines flight (I love Southwest!).  I made it to Vegas about 9:30 AM and met Clarissa in baggage claim. We couldn't check in until 1 PM so we dropped off our bag, ate a nice Brunch at Hexx and walked the Strip.
This was basically Clarissa to get us free Chippendale's tickets. LMAO.

We checked in and were walking to the elevators and a guy at a desk stopped us what we were there for and we told him a bachelorette party.  He asked if we wanted free show tickets and my mind instantly flew to timeshares.  Yep, it was a timeshare presentation but there were free Chippendale's tickets on the line...we quickly signed up!  Haha.  Actually Clarissa is the only one who went because we were running out of time and had to get the room decorated.  She didn't want to go by herself but since it was a 2 hour presentation, we didn't have time for us both to go. I just told her what the standard procedure was and how to say no.  If you can stay strong and keep repeating the no, you will get your "reward" of whatever you choose.  It turns out the presentation lasted about 3 hours and she got there about 30 minutes before everyone else did.  If you ask Clarissa, she will tell you that three hours was worth it!

Meanwhile, I decorated the room with all the crafts that we made.  I waited to do the streamers because Clarissa wanted to help decorate too.  I blew up balloons, set out the shirts and the rest of hte crafts for each person in their own pile.  It turned out super cute!!


Amber had her own little chair for her stuff.

I made a door sign for both doors and throughout the weekend you could hear people talking about our sign and our bachelorette party.  One day we were all in the hallway when another group came by and said, "Hey it's Amber's bachelorette party crew.  Which one of you is Amber?"  haha.  I'm glad the whole floor new us. :)


That night one of the girls in our group was able to get us free club entrance with a table and bottle service.  Now, I had NO IDEA how expensive that was but let me tell you, WOW!  To get it in was about $50-$100 each person and the table itself was $5,000.  Yes, you read the number of zeros correctly.  The club was a beautiful spot on the rooftop of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Casino.  You had to go up stairs through a big room and up an elevator to get to the nightclub.  It was so pretty being that high up and seeing all the Strip lights.

The table came with a free bottle of Vodka + mixers so we all had a few drinks.  We inquired how much another bottle was, but it turns out bottle service is VERY pricey.  I'm talking about $495 for a bottle of Tito's Vodka.  I couldn't believe it and wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen the menu.  Here's a pic if you don't believe me.  WTF?!?!?!?!

We danced for a while and then left to go back to the hotel to change shoes.  Some people went back out and others (like me!) fell asleep.  I figured I made my appearance (and even danced) at a club so I did my bachelorette party duties.

Part Two is coming up including all of the Saturday festivities!  Saturday was SO FUN!!