Showing posts with label Houston. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Houston. Show all posts

Monday, June 23, 2014

Removing The Cobwebs

Although the intention is always there, I just cannot seem to get back into the swing of regularly blogging.  It's definitely something that I want to be better about, but other things just always seem to get in the way.  But perhaps I just need to accept that that's how things may be for a while around here, stop apologizing for it, and say hey- something's better than nothing.  Right?  So here's a little mish-mash catch up of sorts.  Thanks to those of you who have stuck around despite my silence!

~A beautiful Houston sunset that I caught on my walk home from the gym a while back.  One thing that I loved about living in small town Australia was that the skies always seemed so much more beautiful than anyplace I had ever lived (I wrote about them in a post HERE).  I don't know what it was, but they always seemed bluer, clearer, had the puffiest, whitest clouds, and some of the most breath-taking sunsets I have ever seen.  This Houston sunset almost reminded me of one of those gorgeous Aussie sunsets that I miss so much. 


~A teacher reunion with some of my favorite former co-workers.  You can tell by our clothes how long ago this happy hour actually took place, but whatever.  I miss these ladies, and it was so fun to catch up!


~A funny bookshelf.  I was cleaning and reorganizing a little bit a while ago, and I noticed something funny about this particular book shelf.  Can you guess which one of these books belongs to my husband?  If you know David, you will get a pretty good laugh out of this one. 


~An Aussie care package.  Two of my closest girlfriends that I met in Australia were sweet enough to send me this fun Aussie care package.  Thanks, Jackie and Katie!!


~A visit with some of my former students.  I spent a couple hours one day visiting my old school and some of my former students.  These are two of my favorites (yep, teachers absolutely have favorites).  I couldn't believe how much they had grown! 


~Office View.  This is my view from the office (it's a office run out of someone's home if you can't tell).  I love March/April in Houston because the azaleas bloom like CRAZY.  I had actually never seen white azaleas, so I was loving these ones.  I tried to grow azaleas at our old house in Houston, and I never had any luck (#blackthumb).  They're so pretty though, and so "Houston" to me. 


~A perfect Friday evening.  A while back, I picked David up from work on a Friday and we had the perfect evening.  We started with a couple glasses of wine at a neighborhood bar (the weather was perfect that night so we took advantage and sat outside), then we headed to my new favorite Houston restaurant- Hugo's.  You guys.  If you live in or around Houston, or ever visit, you MUST go here.  I can't believe we only discovered it a couple months ago.  It is some of, no THE best Mexican food I have ever had- super authentic.  Oh, and the best margarita of my life.  I was too busy chowing down and guzzling margaritas to take any pictures though. 


~Hard-working hubby.  Poor David has just been swamped at work lately.  We were talking the other night and honestly, we aren't really sure that the 13 hour work days/6 day work weeks he had to work in Australia were any worse than the current situation.  Sigh... He has been working just about every Saturday, and during the week usually not getting home until between 8 and 9.  A couple times it has even been 10:30.  One Saturday, I walked down to his office (literally like 3 blocks from our apartment) to bring him lunch, and I saw this duck guarding the entrance.  I thought it was pretty funny.  He seriously wasn't budging for anyone trying to get in/out.  And this text message shows you a little bit what life/work has been like lately.  I usually text him each afternoon/early evening to get his ETA.  And just about everytime, the answer gets later as the evening goes on.  Poor guy...


~Texas BBQ!  I can't believe it took us this long, but we finally made it to our favorite Houston BBQ spot- Luling City Market.  There's nothing like eating straight off of butcher paper and piling a ton of meat onto good ol' white bread.  Yum!  Don't worry, I did not eat all that meat in front of me- we shared that AND took home leftovers. 


~Shaking my head at Texas.  I love living in Houston.  And most of the time I forget I actually live in Texas.  Until I drive by things like this on the side of the road.... really?...


~Random Houston statues.  There is a random outdoor statue museum/field... I don't know what to call it... in Houston.  It's filled with these giant sculptures of the Beatles and about a million presidential heads.  So random, but pretty neat.  Not too far from that... display... is the "We Love Houston" sign that I've been meaning to see for years, but never made it there until now. 

 

~Bubba's Burger Shack.  This is another favorite Houston restaurant of ours.  It is a total dive, and as you can tell from the pictures, it is literally a SHACK.  And even better, it is situated basically underneath a freeway overpass... this little shack has been there so long that they basically built the overpass around it.  But oh my god, they have the BEST buffalo burgers ever.  So good!  I had the buffalo patty melt, and David had the double burger.  Nom nom nom! 

 

~A little Aussie reunion.  A few weeks ago, I met up with two girls that I met in Australia who now live in the Houston area.  Kim had just had her second baby boy, so Lori and I drove out to meet the new little guy.  It was a fun day and some much needed girl time.  It's so funny to me that I had to go all the way to Australia to finally meet some Houston friends :-)  I'm hoping that eventually even more of the girls I met there will get moved to Houston, too!  Please note, none of these adorable children are mine. 


~Crazy Houston weather.  A few weekends ago, Houston had one of its famous rain storms.  These things seriously seem to come out of nowhere, and they are no joke- flooding is usually involved.  This photo is a major street in Houston (Richmond Ave, if you're familiar), and it was completely flooded.  Don't worry, about 3 hours later, the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  Houston is weird. 


~Bear.  We went to Austin for Father's Day weekend to visit David's parents.  This is their dog, Bear.  I have a love/hate relationship with this dog.  You see, Bear used to be my sister-in-law's dog.  She and I used to be roommates in Los Angeles (that's how I met David).  Renee used to be out of town a lot, and so I ended up being the one to take care of Bear.  He would get mad when she would leave, and unfortunately, he would take that out on me.  TWICE this dog peed on my bed in retaliation.  I still haven't forgiven him. 


Alright, I think that's enough from me for now.  Hopefully it won't be another month before I'm back again! :-) 

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Rodeo Recap - Mutton Bustin' & Usher

Two months isn't too late for a recap, right?  RIGHT?!...

Maybe just don't answer that question.  Because either way, I'm about to recap my trip to the Houston Rodeo which happened back in March.  But really, compared to the rest of the recaps I need to catch up on, 2 months is nothing.  So here goes...

The Houston Rodeo is probably one of my most favorite things to do in Houston.  I've been to the rodeo every year since David and I started dating long distance, and I was sad to have to miss it for the first time while we were in Australia.  So this was my first rodeo since being back, and I was SO excited to go! 

For those of you who aren't familiar with The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, it's basically one of the most amazing and totally ridiculous things you'll ever experience.  It lasts for nearly the whole month of March in Houston, and it's a pretty darn big deal.  It includes lots of livestock/farming things I know very little about, a huge fair grounds with lots of rides and fried everything, cowboys, bull riding, and a concert each night.  I'm always impressed with the level of performers that the rodeo tends to pull- there are always pretty great shows to choose from.  I've seen everyone from John Legend to Rascal Flatts to Tim McGraw to Train.  David can get rodeo/concert tickets through work, and this year we scored tickets to Usher! 

A couple weeks before the show, my cousin Lee Anne found out that she would be in town for work, and David very readily gave up his Usher ticket so that he could avoid hearing my squeals she and I could go together.  I was so excited to finally take one of my out of town friends to the rodeo.  It is such a true Texas experience! 


We started our night off right with some yummy Texas BBQ on the fairgrounds, then we headed to our seats while I gave her a quick overview about what she was about to see.  Before the concert, you get to see all kinds of rodeo events- barrel racing, bull riding, etc.  But my two most favorite (and totally ridiculous) events are the calf scramble and mutton bustin'.  When I explained these events to her before she actually got to experience them herself, I think she didn't really believe me, because it truly just sounds absolutely absurd.  But here's a quick run down for you if you are unfamiliar.  Of course, I will follow it with some photographic evidence so you can see it with your own two eyes.

Calf Scramble.  Basically a group of about 50 FFA (or 4H, I truly don't know the difference) teenagers stand in the middle of the field? stage? (whatever you call it), and about 30-40 calves are released into the field.  The kids then scramble to chase these calves around and catch one with a rope and guide the stubborn thing back into the square painted on the ground in the middle.  If they get it to that point, they get to keep it and raise it.  Which is supposedly a pretty good prize?  It's basically chaos.  And hilarious.

And they're off!

Notice the calf on the right basically dragging the kid behind him

Mutton Bustin.'  OK, now this... THIS is probably one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen.  So essentially, they take little kids (I think 3-5 years old), put them on the back of a sheep/mutton, tell them to hold on for dear life, and then let the sheep run like a bat out of hell and see how long the kid can hang on.  Yes.  This is real life.  And despite how crazy/possibly horrible it sounds, if you see it for yourself, you will realize how seriously awesome this sporting event is.  People do all kinds of sucking up/donating for years to get the opportunity to for their small child to bust some muttons.  Seriously. 


Finally it was time for Usher to perform.  To put it simply- he was amazing!  He is the best dancer ever.  We squealed a lot.  He played an amazing set (lots of "old school Usher" from our college days like "Burn, " "OMG," and "Yeah").  And our Usher crushes were renewed with a vengeance.  See for yourself:


I LOVE this photo with the cowboy hat silhouettes



Thanks for visiting, Lee Anne!  I'll let you know when next year's rodeo line up us released :-) 

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

Change Of Plans...


In case you haven't noticed... things have been pretty quiet around these parts lately.  That seems to happen here every so often.  I get into blogging funks and just don't feel inspired to write.  Or it may just be a super busy time of year, and blogging just gets demoted down my priority list.  However, this time this little blogging hiatus has a different explanation. 

You see, literally less than a week after I published THIS post about how I was in a bit of an expat funk and was wishing time away to just get out of here for a while, we got some news that changed my tune in an instant. 

That news being: David will be moving to a new role with this project.  And that new role is a Houston-based role.  And they want him (us) to report there in January. 

So I guess my blogging silence was a combination of denial about this major wrench that was being thrown in our plans for the next few years and the fact that from the day we got that news, things shifted into high gear since we suddenly had less than two months to make another international move happen.  Probably mostly just denial though if I'm being honest. 

I wish I would have blogged during that time... so that I could better remember exactly the mix of emotions I was feeling and how I processed everything.  But I think I really just didn't believe it, and I felt like if I "put it on paper" it would make it more real than I was ready to acknowledge at the time.  But I guess now I'm finally ready (and finally have a spare moment) to document this event and some of my feelings surrounding it. 

I remember very clearly exactly when David told me the news.  I just leaving work on a Friday.  We had kind of known that this was a vague possibility for a few days, but I really hadn't thought anything of it, as I had kind of gotten used to these somewhat regular talks of assignment changes and then nothing ever coming of them.  But it just so happened that this time, something did come of it.  The moment I read that text saying that we would be heading back to Houston, my heart sank and tears filled my eyes.  I remember driving home and all of a sudden this place and everything I was driving by just seemed different- more special somehow.  My "this may be the last time I (fill in the blank) mindset started from that very moment I think.  It's funny how just days earlier I was just so ready to get out of this place.  I needed a break, and I wanted that break NOW.  And suddenly that all changed.  Now I wanted more time here, and I wanted the time I did have left here to pass by as slowly as possible.  I went from having my "Countdown 'Til Home" app front and center on my iPhone home screen, to deleting it entirely.  I couldn't stand a daily reminder that my days here were now numbered.  What was originally going to be our first trip back to the US in nearly a year and a half was now going to be our demobilization trip.  A one way ticket...

I was very sad.  I cried a little bit pretty much every day for that first week.  This change was very sudden and unexpected- especially since only back in September we had been told that we would likely be here until 2016.  So I had really only recently wrapped my head around that and then this news.  I sort of felt like someone pulled a rug out from under me.  But I guess it's just part of being in this industry- you go where they tell you and when.  We had to wait about a week before telling any of our family or friends while we waited for everything to be official.  Even then, I found myself hanging onto the chance that something might fall through.  It didn't. 

It is official.  We have one way tickets leaving Australia on December 24.  It's funny... I basically came to Gladstone kicking and screaming... and now I feel like I will leave the same way.  Who would've thought? 

Honestly?  If you would've told me this news only six or seven months ago?  I probably would've been thrilled.  It took me a long time to feel settled here, to find my niche, to make a solid group of friends (something I didn't really even have in Houston before we came here).  It's only been in the past 6 months or so that I had really been enjoying the life that we have here... and looking forward to what was ahead of us here (oh the amazing trips I had planned in my head!).  I guess I just feel like we weren't quite ready to leave quite yet.  Sure, 2016 was a little much for me to take, but I would've at least liked another year.  That's obviously not in the cards for us though. 

Things have been full on for the past few weeks- organizing everything we need to sell here, quitting my job, sorting out having packers come, while at the same time trying to make sure we aren't living on the streets in Houston since we sold most everything we had there, too.  It got real pretty fast.  It's amazing how quickly your brain kind of just automatically begins to slowly detach yourself from things, people, places upon big news like this.  I guess that's just the mind's way of beginning the process of letting go.  I hate that I'm doing it, but I catch myself checking out, pulling away... in order to prepare for this big change.  However, I am trying to soak up and enjoy as much of our last few weeks here as possible.  I'm going to do my best to try and get caught up from old trips I still have yet to post while at the same time trying to do a better job of documenting this whole moving process and experience in real time.  I know that this will be important in being able to process this change, and find closure on my time here in Australia. 

Two international moves in less than two years?  Wish us luck...


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Two Houston Restaurant Faves


Tuesday, September 24: Review a book, place, or product.
 
Since I've been missing Houston a little bit lately, I thought I'd choose to review two of my favorite restaurants there!  One of the best things about Houston is the food.  Seriously.  I think I read a statistic at one point stating that Houston has the most restaurants per capita- so there is never a shortage of fun new restaurants where you can stuff your face. 
 
Restaurant Name: Zabak's Mediterranean Cafe
Type of Food: Mediterranean
What To Order: Start with a side of Hummus and Pita Bread AND a starter order of Falafel.  Their falafel is made fresh to order, and it is to die for!  For entrees, you can't really go wrong with whatever you order, but a few of my favorites are: Gyro Plate, Chicken Kabob, or Shish Kabob. 
Why It's Great: Mediterranean food is probably my favorite type of food after Mexican, and this place never disappoints.  Another thing that I love about Zabak's is that it is a small, "hole-in-the-wall" type place.  It is family owned and run- mostly by the sister/2 brother trio.  When we lived in Houston, we ate here probably 2-3 times a month, and I seriously felt like these siblings were my bffs.  They always remembered our names, were SO friendly and welcoming, and even could pretty much place our order before we even reached the counter (we're pretty predictable).  If When you go here, tell them David and Megan said hello! 
 
*Please excuse the photo quality of photos in this post.  My focus was less on photography and much more on stuffing my face. 
 
 
 
 
This is the Mediterranean Pizza- also a delicious menu option.
 
Restaurant Name: Bombay Pizza Company
Type of Food: Indian Meets Italian Pizzeria
What To Order: Do yourself a favor, and order a Sweet Potato roll (or two) as a starter.  Then, I would suggest ordering from any of the Specialty Pizzas.  My favorites are: The Slumdog and Mitul's Masala.  The pizza crusts are super thin and crispy and amazing. 
Why It's Great:  We actually found this restaurant through a Groupon I randomly purchased and we quickly became repeat visitors.  It's located in downtown Houston (although it looks like they now have a Sugarland location as well), which is a part of town we didn't visit too regularly, so it was fun to actually spend some town there- you can even sit outside!  The story behind this place is really interesting and unique- Indian/Italian fusion- crazy, right?  Nope, delicious!  In a nutshell, the restaurant was started by a mother-son team.  The son was trained in Italian cooking and cuisine, but always loved the spices and flavors of his mom's Indian cooking.  So they decided to combine the two and open this Indian-Italian Pizzeria.  If you want something unique and seriously delicious, and you live in the Houston area, go here- pronto! 
 
The Slumdog Pizza
 
 
Now that I completed that exercise in self-torture, I am STARVING and missing Houston and its good food even more.  Can't wait to visit and stuff my face at these favorites again!  In the meantime, if you're in the Houston area, please go stuff your face at these restaurants for me? 
 
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Friday, September 06, 2013

Burglary


Friday, September 6: A story about a time you were very afraid. 

The first thing that came to mind when reading this prompt was my bungy jumping experience.  But I already wrote about there HERE.  That was absolutely terrifying.  My stomach still drops just thinking about it...

After thinking a little more, I remembered another time I was afraid- the time our apartment in Houston was broken into.   Before buying our house in Houston, we lived in a large apartment complex in Uptown Houston.  When choosing which unit we wanted, we specifically chose the top floor (3rd floor) for many reasons, but partially because of the fact that being on the top floor makes your chances of a break-in pretty slim.  Right?  Unfortunately, we were wrong. 

I came home from work about an hour earlier than normal one afternoon, because I had been at a training that day that finished earlier than scheduled.  I walked down the outdoor hallway toward our apartment door, and as I got closer I saw that the door was cracked open slightly.  For a second, I thought maybe I hadn't closed the door all the way when I left for work that morning.  But then I saw that the door had obviously been opened by force.  I obviously wasn't thinking clearly at this point, because I made the very stupid decision of going inside our apartment.  As soon as I opened the door all the way, it was obvious that we had been robbed.  Our stuff was thrown everywhere, drawers open, TV missing, etc.  I didn't take more than a couple steps inside before I finally panicked and realized I needed to get out of there quickly.  I ran down to the apartment leasing office where I called the police and my husband.   

Luckily, there was no one in the apartment when I entered.  And luckily, we didn't lose too much- mostly just electronics, both our computers, cameras, TV, a few minor pieces of jewelry, luggage/sheets/pillows that they used to cart our stuff out of there with (which infuriated me!), etc.  It's just a really scary and unsettling feeling to know that someone has been in your home, rifling through your property and personal items.  What scared me even more is that the police said that they thought that I probably came home while the burglary was still in progress.  They didn't think anyone was in there when I walked in, but they did say that because the second of our TV's was wrapped in blankets and pillows just near the doorway all "ready to go" probably meant that whoever had broken in was most likely taking the first load of our stuff out and meaning to come back for the other TV and who knows what else.  So that means that whoever it was probably saw me going in to our apartment.  They also thought that because I had come home earlier than usual, it might have meant that whoever robbed us knew my schedule and thought they knew when neither of us would be home.  That still just gives me the creeps.  Such an unnerving feeling!     
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