Monday, November 20, 2017

Retirement Party

On Saturday we celebrated my dad's retirement after 31 years of working on law enforcement.  I was about 9 when my parents got married and Keith was already a police officer in the narcotics sector (we even had two trained black labs that were our dogs) and worked his way up through the years to be on a special task force. 

(Side note:  When I talk about my parents, it is my mom and Keith.  I talk about my real dad separately).

Anyway, Keith retired at the end of September and had a party at his office but he wanted to invite more people who he had known since he began working.  My mom decided on a fall theme (that will double as Thanksgiving decor) with a table full of cop stuff to showcase some of his career. 

We made an "Evidence" wall with pictures from his career.  I don't want to show actual pictures of it because of privacy, but it was super cute.  We got a huge foam board from Home Depot (like in the insulation section) and cut it to the size of the hutch that is right inside the door when you come in.  I printed out an "evidence" clipart image and added it to the top of the board.  We also used those brass type push pins for a real evidence wall effect.  I wanted to add string to/from a few pictures, but they said it looked too junky.  I also printed out some fake headlines that you can customize like CNN or newspapers with Keith's picture.

My sisters friend has a bakery where our family gets all of our cakes (she made my 30th birthday cake that was 80's themed), called Lollydoozer's Bakery

My sisters other friend makes THE BEST cookies ever as party favors  I would love to have this skill!!  Anyway, there were 11 different designs and they were all so cute.  There was a police man, gun, police car, bullet proof vest, crime scene tape, handcuffs, police hat, a badge, etc.

My mom got some stickers to put on the bottom of some Hershey Kisses and my sister heat pressed a few designs on some bags.

We had a ton of food!!  My mom also made other food that isn't pictured and we have been eating all of it for days!!

And put up a tent in the back yard for people to sit at plus lit the firepit in the backyard that people sat around since that was the night the cold front came in.

We set up the mixed drinks in the office and the beer/wine in the backyard with bartenders.  I got to meet a lot of my parents friends that I have heard about, but never actually met.  It was a fun party!!

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


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).


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. :)