Urine luck, Bucee’s Nearby

Alright, I’ll admit that this post might seem strange considering the subject matter. But it means something to me, and it makes me happy. In my last few posts I’ve talked about my great affection for Texas, and I’ve unwittingly taken you on a journey through fond travel memories. It wasn’t my intent to make a series out of my many trips through the Lonestar state, but here we are.

Anyways, on with the show…

One of my most favorite-est places to stop in Texas is a place called Buc-ees. No, it’s not a restaurant, it’s not a cute thirft store. But it’s a gas station. Yup , you read that right, I go out of my way visit a gas station. But it’s not just a gas station it’s a Fun Store! And their mascot, is an adorable beaver…

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And he’s ready to greet you with a welcoming hug and a winning smile.

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Once you walk through the average convenience store automatic doors, one is struck by the size of this place. My favorite location is the one in New Braunfels, between San Antonio and Austin. It happens to be the largest convenience store in the world at 68, 000 square feet! When Texans do something, they don’t do it small that’s for sure.

This place offers so many amenities, but before I go into those, I’ve got to talk about the #1 priority, as well as the #2. The restrooms! Yes, we’re gonna go there. Buc-ees bathrooms are so clean they’ve won awards for them. So, if you ever do get to visit one, make sure you come with a full bladder too! (Wink-wink, also sorry for the potty talk Mom). But really, the restrooms are a big draw. They advertise themselves and their gloriously clean bathrooms for many miles along I-10. With signs that totally speak to my inner 10-year old:

“Urine luck! Buc-ees right ahead!”

“Restrooms so clean, We leave mints on the urinals!”

“Buy a gift, leave a gift.”

“Epic Flush”

No, I didn’t make those up, those are part of the Buc-ee’s ingenious ad campaign. If I were in marketing, I would totally wanna work with these guys!

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After you’ve discovered the joys of such a rare thing as a clean public restroom, with actual locking doors and Buc-ee’s branded soap, it’s time to get your shop on.

At Buc-ee’s you can buy everything from the normal convenience store fare, to specialty items. They’ve got the best selection of Icee’s I’ve ever seen. My favorite is the Big Red Icee, but you can choose from various other Icees in soda pop form to the regular blends such as Cherry and Blue Coconut.

The stores them selves are huge, and resemble a cross between a grocery store, a regular convenience store, and one of those kitschy tourist stops. It pulled me right, in like the fish chasing a worm…

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There are walls upon walls of snacks, with Buc-ee’s knowing smile staring back at you. He knows he had you at the funny billboards and the fulfilled promise of clean restrooms.

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His sweet mug is on pretty much everything sold at this haven of kitsch.

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Even on the strangest of items…

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But it’s not all trail mix and Beaver Nuggets (Nope, not making those up either. They’re caramel and butter glazed corny puffs of heaven!) They also offer hot freshly prepared meals as well. I only had the chance to try this fare once, it was 11:30 at night, and the hot foods section had just closed up shop. I ended up with a brisket sandwich and a coleslaw. Let me tell you, that was the best BBQ I’d had all day, especially considering the sandwich had been sitting under a heat lamp for the better part of an hour. It was so good, I didn’t have time to take a picture of it, too busy munching.

When you do find yourself at a Buc-ees make sure your bladder is full and your car is empty, because they offer 154,939 gas pumps for your convenience.

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But don’t forget the gift shop! Apparently, I say this a lot, if you’ve spent any amount of time in or near Texas you’ll understand.

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Guys, I think I found my people! If you need me I’ll be in a Buc-ees restroom…munching on some Beaver Nuggets or taking a nap.

Dream Homes in the King William District

For my birthday this year, I was ever insistent on visiting our neighboring state, big brother to the east, Texas. I don’t know what it is about Texas, but it’s grabbed my heart and run away with it. Maybe it’s the sunshiny skies and the green green grass, the smiling faces, or maybe it’s because Texas is a whole other country. Those marketing campaigns really aren’t too far off the map. What other state in the lower 48 (other than Cali, but we won’t go there.) can you see the whole spectrum of sites, from mountains, plains, and shores?  I don’t know what the allure of this great state is, but I can’t seem to get enough of it.

My favorite area of Texas is the Hill Country, particularly the areas around San Antonio and Austin. I’ve had the awesome opportunity to visit around these areas a few times, and each time, I come away with something new from my adventures.When I visited San An a few years ago, I got to take a look around the King William District. If you aren’t familiar, it’s an area of town just south of downtown and about a mile from the infamous Alamo, full of beautiful Victorian homes. It was around Christmas time when I visited, the houses looked oh so cheery in their festive reds and greens. It’s probably not normal to enjoy looking at other peoples homes as much as I do, but considering these houses are in a historic district, I’d say it’s acceptable.

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I love a house with a good porch, but a house double porches? I might need a minute to compose myself.

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Oh my…look at the porch on that one.

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And here we are with only a one level porch, but isn’t it grand?

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And the houses with the oh so fine arches.

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Then the houses that have grand gardens with mazes.

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And weird babies holding flowers. At least he’s wearing a loin cloth. Still, for some reason I find this disturbing.

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And strange stone chairs and tables. I understand the concept, but what if you can’t reach the table and need to scoot the chair closer?? Or what if you’re too fluffy and need to scoot away? Maybe it’s just for pretties.

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Then you’ve got the houses that look like they should be on the English country side somewhere. Oh so European.

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Doesn’t this one look like Kate Winslet’s house from The Holiday? Behold…

Via HookedOnHouses.net

Psst…click the picture or the above link to find more information about the movie house.

Oh, and speaking of the King William District feeling a little like Europe, the San Antonio River flowed in a canal right behind of the gorgeous homes. Made me feel like I was visiting the canals in Venice. Actually, I’ve never been to Venice, but I like to pretend. And I thought this was a pretty sight.

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The architectural elements are oh so delectable, on old homes. It’s a shame that houses aren’t built like this anymore.

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It wasn’t all British accents and pretty homes though. Along the way, I picked up a tour guide. He wasn’t too forthcoming about histories on the homes we were touring, but he sure was cute.

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He led me to my most favoritest house of all…

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Someday, I will have a house with a wrap around porch, and another porch to grow on. Le sigh…

So, next time you find yourself in San Antonio, head down to the King William District.

For more information visit the King William Association website here.

Bonnets of Blue

On my morning commute into work, I have these brief moments of creative brilliance. For instance, this morning, I was sitting at a red light, as one does when driving in the city, and I came up with several bullet points for a blog post. I knew for sure, I would remember them and be able to jot them down as soon as I got to the office. But once I stepped into my office and sat down at my desk, I was suddenly mind blocked. Work things started taking the place of creative things. Which is probably a good thing, since work things pay the bills and creative things only entertain me. But it’s a bummer when I wanted to record those creative things for later use. Staring at a blank note pad, pen in hand didn’t bring the thoughts back either. So, they’re lost…until tomorrow on my next morning commute.

All that to say, I don’t have anything cool to say. But, I do have lots of photos to share…

Remember in this post I promised lots of bluebonnet and wildflower photos from my trip to the great state of Texas this past April. So here we go…

We went in early April, so it was a little early to see a lot of different wildflowers and I really didn’t get to see the sea of Bluebonnets like I had envisioned. But I still got to shoot lots of them despite how sparse they kind of were that time of year. On the bright side, the route we took gave us a good tour of the Texas hill country.Texas as a whole really is one of my favorite places, but I seem to have a special place in my heart for central Texas and the hill country in particular. I can’t explain it, but it just feels right.

We left fairly early on a Monday drove through New Mexico, West Texas, and finally arriving in the Austin area. From there we went south to New Braunfels, because Buc-ees, I’ll have to tell you about that later. It’s not just a gas station by the way. From New Braunfels, husband and I decided it was time to move further north, so we headed up to Waco. Which by the way is a super charming town, and had me at all the great eateries (Health Camp anyone?) Then sadly, it was time to head home. But today, lets focus on the reason for the trip, the flowers!

These were taken lakeside in Waco…

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BluebonnetsTree

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butterflybluebonnetsNotice the butterfly in the center of this photo? I didn’t have a macro lens to properly capture that quick moving sucker. Maybe next time.

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These were taken outside Austin at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. An awesome stop if you ever get the chance. They have beautiful grounds.

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I have tons more photos of these beautiful blues. But for now this is what I have to share. I’ll be talking about the little Texas towns I had the pleasure of visiting along the way. So there is more to come!

Also, any of you know of an easy to use photo editing software? I am using a pretty clunky system now, it’s very time consuming, and apparently I can’t seem to get my watermark to be consistently less intrusive. I have played around with Photoshop and enjoy using it, but it’s so expensive. I’m leaning towards purchasing Elements since it’s a little more user friendly and not as costly. Any thoughts?

The Great Pretender

Recently, I’ve been re-evaluating my career choices, and I’ve come to realize that I’ve been pretending to like something that I really don’t like. So, I’ve been mentally trying different jobs on. And wonder, would this job fit? Would it be too snug, like an uncomfortable pair of shoes? Or would it be too comfortable, like my favorite yoga pants? A career, job, whatever it is you have to do to earn money, should be something that’s challenging, but not too challenging. Slightly structured but not too structured. It should be juuuussst right…maybe that makes me a career Goldilocks. But, this mentally trying on of careers has raised the question , am I pretending in other areas of my life?

I pretend that I enjoy being with certain people, when really I just want to punch them in the face, doing so with all the love of Jesus in my heart. Instead I smile politely and tolerate their presence. (Don’t worry, these people know who they are. My polite smile is pretty obviously a fake one.) I pretend to enjoy certain activities, when all I want to do is sit on the couch with my Oero’s and binge watch something on Netflix. I pretend to enjoy subject matter to try to better my career, but all it does is make me want to take a nap. Some of this pretending is to be polite, but some of it, I wonder if it’s me lying to myself.  Either way you cut it, the pretending is getting to be a bit much, and makes me wonder if my entire life is one big game of pretend.

When I was a kid, my favorite game to play was “House”. You were all kids once, I’m sure your familiar…it’s a game of pretend, you make a pretend life, with a pretend house, a pretend job, pretend kids, it’s all pretend. Sometimes, this game was acted out with Barbie and Ken, sometimes, if there were enough friends around we’d play the roles ourselves.  In my games of house, I was always an educated career woman, who had both a fulfilling career that she loved, and a loving family to come home to. She had a big yellow house with a wrap around porch, went to Disneyland whenever she wanted, and had a rockin’ pink corvette (just like Barbie). She also had big curly hair treated hourly with Aquanet and always wore puffy sleeves, it was the 80’s after all. It was fun, it helped me shape what I wanted my future to be. But it was fun, pretend, but fun.

Real life, is nothing like the pretend game I had envisioned in my 8 year old head. Real life doesn’t have weekly visits to Disneyland, a pink corvette, definitely no big curly hair treated hourly with Aquanet, and for me no yellow house with a wrap around porch. Real life, although full of many many blessings, also holds uncertainty, self doubt, anger, jealousy, and pretending, but not the good kind.

So, with all of this worry about pretending, I do what any  Christian does in this situation. I pray about it, I take it to the Lord. And he assures me, that I can’t pretend around Him. He knows what’s in my heart, and He knows where the “just right” place for me is in this world. He also tells me, that this world is not my home, so everything will feel like those uncomfortable but cute pair of red heels, wearable but still a little snug. My home is where He is, my home is in Heaven, where He has prepared an awesome mansion for me. I can stop pretending, I can be myself.

Now, if only I could get my heart to believe what my head thinks…

That’s where faith comes in, switching it up a little,  letting your heart lead, and making your head follow that lead. And that’s where the pretending can finally stop. When you follow your heart there’s no way you can pretend, because your heart and your calling never lie. See, your calling is from God and God never lies. We lie to ourselves, we lie to each other, we have perfected lying, but God…He’s the only one that will be honest. The only one you don’t have to pretend around.

So, kick off those uncomfortable but cute red heels, maybe pull out the orero’s, relax, listen to your heart, and stop pretending!

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Romans 12:2 NKJV

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P.S. If you like Bluebonnets and various other wildflowers. I will be posting about my tour de Tejas in a few days. There will be flower photos a plenty!

Semi-New

Remember when I mentioned that it was time for something new in this post? Well, I’ve done something sort of new. If you haven’t noticed, The Yellow Casa is no more, but she’s been replaced by something new. I’d like to introduce you to….awkward drumroll please….. Semi-Seasonal!

Why is this blog now Semi-Seasonal? Does this mean that you’ll only be blogging semi-seasonally? No, but after looking at my most recent posting history it would appear so. The Yellow Casa is now Semi-Seasonal, because the writer behind blog happens to have a semi-seasonal name. My first name being April and my last name being a season of which I don’t think I’ll be sharing just yet. But you have four guesses which season follows my first name.

After much deliberation, I decided I was proud of what I’ve done here over the past 5 years, and I couldn’t just abandon all that randomness. Sure this blog mainly consists of musings of an awkward sweet tea addict who quotes waaay too many obscure TV shows, and really wants her dogs to be internet famous, but it’s mine, and I like it. I still don’t know if I’ll be taking a different direction with the blog. I hear that it’s best to pick a niche and stick with it, but my interests don’t really fit into a niche. Plus, I get bored very easily. So, there probably won’t be any niche writing. The writing you find here, although random, will hopefully put a smile on your face, just as you dear reader have put a smile on mine.

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Also, who knew a fish eye lens could be so much fun! And make someone look like they have a Homer Simpson mouth, with no teeth. Actually, I might change this photo soon.

“Hi I’m April, you might know me as that vain girl from that place.”

So, here’s to new beginnings!

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:19

5 years…

I forgot my blogiversary. Does this make me a bad blogger? Is this like forgetting your child’s birthday? Does this in essence make me a bad mother?? My blog baby has been neglected, I’ve forgotten the day that marks it’s birth. I am a bad mother. At least to my blog. And it’s a big blogiversary too, 5 years! If my blog were a child she’d be wanting a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, and would be preparing for Kindergarten in the fall. And probably wouldn’t let me forget about the day she entered this world. But alas, a blog is not a being that can tell me how she feels.

So, for 5 years now I’ve been gabbing about this and that, and wondering why I do it. But I’m still here. Maybe not as regularly scheduled as I used to be, but still here none the less. In this post I talked about doing something new and improved. That’s still in works, news coming soon about that. It may not be as new as I had thought, but it will be improved.

Dear Blog, I’m sorry I forgot our most important day of all to celebrate you and I, me and you, blogger and blog…together. I’ll try to make it up to the best I can. How about dinner at Chuck E Cheese. I hear 5 year olds like that.

Maybe some flowers will make it up to you…they always make me happy.

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Unwind

After a stressful day it’s always nice to unwind. We all have our own ways of relaxing, be it gardening, painting, or simply relaxing with friends. In our house, we head to the park. Being a dog mom (and yes, I can’t believe I’m calling myself that either), I’m always on the look out for a nice park to take a nice “sniff-n-stroll”. A couple days ago, we visited a new park and I happened to have my camera with me. The girls were patient enough to be my models, and gave me a few pointers on how to fully unwind from a busy day of cat chasing, rawhide chewing, and staring out the window.

Annie1. Keep a watchful eye on your surroundings.

drink2.  Stay hydrated.

annie13. Enjoy nature.

Ears4. Ponder…

goldie25. Again, keep an eye on your surroundings. Or evil cats that might be lurking near by.

Rest6. Finally, take time to sit in the grass,  and enjoy doing nothing.

 

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Apparently I am so awesome, I inadvertently published a post before it was ready to be seen. (Why does the Publish button have to be so close to the Save Draft button?) And what makes this even more awesome is that a week later, I am finally noticing my error. Chalk it all up to a blonde moment I guess.

Anyways, my apologies to all who had their readers and inboxes polluted by my carelessness, I promise to be more careful about posting too soon in the future. For those that would like to see the finished product, I am re-posting the complete post here. Ironically, the post is about blogging and future blogging. Let’s hope I can get reacquainted with blogging again and pay closer attention to what button I am clicking in the future.

MADE FRESH EVERYDAY

Well, spwint has come and gone along with March, and much of April…I haven’t been keeping up with my online accounts. And honestly, I won’t make promises that I’ll keep up with it here on the blog. Life keeps happening, and sometimes, you just have to let it happen.

I’ve been considering starting up a new blog, a fresh start. One that is more centered on photography instead of a personal account of my life. Actually, this new blog  would probably still be a little personal as I enjoy capturing photographic evidence that things do happen in my life. It would just be less words more pictures. Again, let me go back (circular thoughts are awesome)…there will probably be words, as I LOVE words. But sometimes, trying to come up with a blog post and photos that match, has just become a bit tedious for me. And I don’t think a hobby should be tedious.

On top of that, this blog has been feeling stale the past couple of years. I can’t really explain why it has started to feel like a fast food salad tastes. Maybe I’ve been keeping this blog at room temperature while the instructions on the box clearly read, “KEEP REFRIGERATED”. But it doesn’t bring me the same amount of joy it did in the past, and I think it’s time for something different. That something different may not happen for a while. I’m still thinking about it, letting it stew a little bit. Hopefully soon something will be fully cooked, and I can keep it refrigerated for some yummy left overs later on.

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Made Fresh Everyday

Well, spwint has come and gone along with March, and much of April…I haven’t been keeping up with my online accounts. And honestly, I won’t make promises that I’ll keep up with it here on the blog. Life keeps happening, and sometimes, you just have to let it happen.

I’ve been considering starting up a new blog, a fresh start. One that is more centered on photography instead of a personal account of my life. Actually, this new blog  would probably still be a little personal as I enjoy capturing photographic evidence that things do happen in my life. It would just be less words more pictures. Again, let me go back (circular thoughts are awesome)…there will probably be words, as I LOVE words. But sometimes, trying to come up with a blog post and photos that match, has just become a bit tedious for me. And I don’t think a hobby should be tedious.

On top of that, this blog has been feeling stale the past couple of years. I can’t really explain why it has started to feel like a fast food salad tastes. Maybe I’ve been keeping this blog at room temperature while the instructions on the box clearly read, “KEEP REFRIGERATED”. But it doesn’t bring me the same amount of joy it did in the past, and I think it’s time for something different. That something different may not happen for a while. I’m still thinking about it, letting it stew a little bit. Hopefully soon something will be fully cooked, and I can keep it refrigerated for some yummy left overs later on.

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Spwint

I can’t wait for it to be full fledged spring, as in no-need-for-a-coat-and-gloves-on-the-morning-dog-walk spring. Although, I do have to say the weather has been super nice here in the land of enchantment, the mornings are cold but by lunch time all you need is a cardigan. It’s that season, the one in between winter and spring, where it’s not cold but it’s not super warm either. Wonder what we could call that…Wintring? Spwint? Let’s go with Spwint.  Anyways, this fifth season I’ve made up is my favorite, because in New Mexico spring time brings with it warmer weather, but also wind. Lots and lots of wind! The entire state is a dust storm from mid March to somewhere towards the end of May. So, maybe I should scratch my first statement about how I can’t wait for it to be spring, I should say, I want it to stay spwint. So to celebrate spwint, here’s some flower shots I took a while ago.

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Happy Spwint Everyone!!!!