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.

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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.

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.

 

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!!!!

 

Shoot Happy: Siesta

So, I blogged for 7 days straight last week, didn’t think that could happen, but low and behold it did.  Let’s see if we can keep up with the schedule this week. Although, so far, I’m not doing so well, it’s currently as I write this post, it 11:40 on Sunday night, So, I’ve already missed the first day of this 7 day week.  You see, I’m sneaky and like to schedule these posts to publish the morning after I’ve written them, so technically this post will be Monday’s post, which would be the second day of the week, since I’m using 7 day weeks that start on Sunday. Confused yet, me too, I think I need to lie down.

Oh, and by the way, this post is part of a 31 day series I’m taking part in. I’ve vowed to shoot ,or at least post some photos, I’ve shot using my nifty 50mm lens  over the month of October. You can start reading the series here.

I had planned on writing a long detailed post, but when I sat down to write it, it just didn’t sing to me, ya know what i mean? The whole weekend has kind of been like that, big plans to do lots of stuff. But then…netflix. Or in the case of this weekend…naptime.  Bubba, the dogs and I just sort of slept our weekend away. Nothing got done, aside from the dishes, laundry, and the floors, because come on, I live with dogs, you can’t just skip a swiftering  or swiffering, whatever the verb tense would be to swifter.  But ya know what, I wouldn’t change it, sometimes a quiet weekend is the best kind of weekend. There’s nothing like curling up in your favorite napping spot and taking a little siesta.

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Or throwing icy stares at the unfortunate soul who had the nerve to wake you from your blissful slumber.

Love you too Annie-Dog!

Shoot Happy: Bad Day Muffin

31DaysNiftyFiftyButtonOver the month of October, I’ll be posting (or trying to post) everyday. These posts will be centered around all things nifty about the fifty, they could be about how awesome the 50mm is, or just some cool shots captured while enjoying the nifty-ness of the fifty. You can read this series from the beginning here.

So, you ever had one of those days where nothing goes the way it’s supposed to? Ya know, the kind of day when you lose your sunglasses but your actually wearing them, or you realize you don’t have your keys just seconds after the door has slammed shut behind you, or you fear your automatic window closing button (highly technical term) has broken because it only clicks instead of closing the window only to realize the window was never down in the first place. And that was all during my morning rush out the door. Thankfully, after looking for my sunnies for a solid 5 minutes ,I finally realized why the world looked so dark, and I was able to use a spare house key hidden in my top secret hidey hole to gain access back into the house. Let’s just say, the rest of the day didn’t get much better.

It was one of those days where you just want to cuddle up with Netflix, and eat baked goods for dinner. Who needs protein anyway?

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Aww..yes…a muffin from my favorite diner. If you ever find yourself in the Albuquerque area you’ll definitely have to hit up Manny’s on Central. Their muffins are huge and oh so tasty. The perfect remedy to a terrible, horrible, not good, very bad day.

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Shoot Happy: Bokeh

The month of October brings so many happy things, pumpkin lattes at Starbucks, fall sunsets ( there’s something about the warmer lighting that’s so magical), and if you live in New Mexico that first whiff of roasted green chili is a sure sign that fall has arrived. But over the past couple of years, October also means participating in a 31 days series hosted by the Nester, click on over to her site to see what all the other 1200 bloggers  also joining in on the joy (or misery) of blogging for 31 days straight about one topic are up to. (Whew, that was a run-on sentence!)

This year, I’ll be talking about shooting happy with the 50mm. Although, I’m starting to question my topic, it’s only the 3rd day into the series and I’m already struggling with blog topics, in fact I’m getting a little bored with it. I may have to resort to posting random shots without any caption, or maybe tweaking the topic a little. Wonder if that’s against the rules of this little bloggy project. I could always change my mind half way through and do 15.5 days of indecisiveness.

But for today, I’ll stick to my chosen topic, and blabber on about how nifty the fifty has proven to be. Today we’ll be talking about bokeh, pronounced BOH-KAY (like the bunch of flowers that hubby brings home when he’s trying to suck up after purchasing more 80’s video games) , meaning the part of a photo that has been purposely blurred to bring focus to a certain area of the shot. According to wiki: Bokeh is the blur,or the aesthetic quality of the blur,in out-of-focus areas of an image.

Here are a couple examples of bokeh I shot while enjoying that warm fall light shining into my living room.

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Notice, how my models ear is in focus while the area around the ear is slightly blurred. And in the photo below, the other model has a very focused nose (better for sniffing out rawhides), but the background is blurred.

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I should also add, that the use of bokeh is perfect at blurring out a messy background (i.e. the mess that is my living room).

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