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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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?

Downtown San Antonio

Photos taken with great care, then edited, then forgotten for two years. That’s the story behind these shots and many, many others.

A couple years ago, Bubba and I went to visit San Antonio and Austin Texas. It was our second trip to southern Texas. Apparently we like to visit places twice just to make sure we like them. Anyways,  San Antonio was nice the first time around, the second time around the traffic got to us, and we didn’t stay in a very peaceful part of town, so that may have had something to do with the less than relaxing visit. Particularly the traffic on I-35 between San Antonio and Austin. I couldn’t imagine making that commute everyday. But we still enjoyed our trip and took a ridiculous amount of photos. As always…

We’ll start with one of my favorite spots in San Antonio, downtown.  I love the old buildings in downtown San An, there’s something special about the artistic touches put into architecture from days long gone….

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While in the area we got to visit the Texas State Capitol building, the missions on the mission trail, and lots of other touristy sites. Since it’s nearly been two years since our visit, I’ve forgotten a lot of the details. All the more reason to label photos better I suppose.  And maybe blog about them sooner.

Anywho…Happy Tuesday all!

Shoot Happy: Sandia Mountains in the Fall

October is a month dedicated to all things nifty about the 50 mm lens, I’ve vowed to post most days this month and talk about a particular shot or a series of shots I’ve taken with my nifty fifty. You can read the series from the beginning here. Having said that, today’s picture was taken a couple years ago, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t taken with a nifty fifty, but I loved the shot so much I had to share it.

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This sort of embodies fall scenery in the mountainous desert. Those are the Sandia Mountains, contrasted against a group of Cottonwoods. I love the golden leaves against the purple mountains. I complain about living in the desert and not having lots of trees to marvel at in the fall, but this sight sort of makes up for it. So, long as I don’t dwell on the fact that winter time is just around the corner. I’m definitely not  a winter time girl. Give me spring and summer blooms any day over cold snowy days.

Weekend Happenings

With the end of Monday near (Thank goodness! Survival was questionable there in the beginning.) I’ve been playing the weekends events over in my little head, it helps to escape the stress of coming back to work ya know.

Pardon my grainy phone pictures, I finally remembered to bring my camera, but lo and behold, the stinkin’ battery died on me. Between Bubba and I  we’ve got a handful of point and shoots and two SLR’s in our house, but did we bring a back-up camera? Nope. So, I had to resort to my camera phone, I was actually surprised at how well some of these came out.

Saturday didn’t entail too much aside from doing the normal weekend chores, but on Sunday we took a little drive out to Edgewood. It’s a little town about 40 minutes from Albuquerque, a nice little drive especially if you’re ready to see something new.

Like a pay phone, I hadn’t seen one of these in years! Since everyone has a cell phone now payphones aren’t very common. Or maybe I haven’t noticed them much, since I am part of the cell phone carting masses. But I was pretty excited to see this one and his buddy outside.

After admiring the historic pay phones and receiving odd looks from the locals we indulged in a road trip classic, dipped cones from

Dairy Queen.  Mine was butterscotch, much to the dismay of my jeans, thank goodness for spandex riddled denim!

After a nice fattening ice cream break it was time to see the sites:

That there’s a meadow, with the stinkin’ camera phone I couldn’t quite capture the colors and the “lifeness” of it all.

Also….there were sunflowers.

Then it started to rain, we took that as a sign it was time to head back home.

Our casa is just on the other side of that mountain. I love summer rain storms in New Mexico, they smell so fresh and the air has an energy to it. But notice that patch of blue sky? Yeah, I theorize that’s exactly where our house is, because it was bone dry when we got home. No glorious summer rain storm for us that day.

With it still being dry and hot at the house, we decided to take a little trip to a local thrift store, just for grins and giggles, we didn’t buy anything. I don’t want my own episode of Hoarders thankyouverymuch. Here’s what I found:

These embroidery hoops are great for wall hangings, just group a bunch of them together with a graphic fabric or even paint them a cool color for some drama.

Sorta like this scene from Apartment Therapy:

Something similar could be done with these guys to add a little more texture to a room. They are meant to be used as paper plate holders, but I think they would be awesome clustered together for a focal wall.

But I don’t think this guy really liked that idea, either that or he was ready to get out of the bag. He kinda scared me…

What happenings from the weekend have you been revisiting to get through this Monday? Is there ice cream? Or a scary tribesman staring back at you from a plastic bag?

Abo Ruins

So, it’s been a while. How’ve you been? I’ve missed you, the people of blog land, and Mom, (hi Mom!). Things have been a hoppin’ around these parts, but I don’t feel like talking about it. Nothing bad, all good stuff has been going on, I just need to organize my thoughts and photos. Instead, I’ll just show you some pretty pictures from my birthday weekend trip. Yeah, I know it’s the beginning of June and my birthday was way back in April, but darn it, I took photos and edited them for you so I’m gonna share. Sit tight, relax, and enjoy this virtual sight seeing tour of Nowhere New Mexico.

Actually it wasn’t Nowhere NM, it’s the Abo Ruins just outside of Mountain Air. This was one of the most pleasant stops we hit up on our way down to Las Cruces. The weather was perfect, there weren’t any crowds, and it was free. Now, that’s something I can do an awkward happy dance for!

The ruins consisted of one large building with a few out buildings that were later built by ranchers in the late 1800’s.

I’ll give those little rattlers all the privacy they need, thankyouverymuch.

The main mission consisted of several large rooms, the main structure itself served as the center of the community.

Look at those stones that the structures are made of, can you believe they did all of this by hand? There were no crews of brawny Canadians that came out and made this right (enter Holmes on Homes joke here.)

Although this was a Catholic mission there are still remnants of the Native American culture and religion. Here’s a kiva as evidence.

I had to include this one, see that bottom sign with Caution man walking his dog? His posture reminds of my posture when going on an evening pull walk with Goldie dog.

I hope you enjoyed this little visit to Nowhere NM with me. I don’t know about you, but I  needed a little virtual vacation since there won’t be road trips  this weekend.  Bubba and I  have made plans to start a little remodeling project on the ol’ casa de yellow. We will be ripping out the old carpet in the living room and putting down vinyl plank flooring. Pray for us, hopefully there will be no gnashing of teeth.

April’s photo dump

As I may have mentioned a time or two, I have a penchant for taking a ridiculous amount of photos, but sadly I don’t have the same penchant for blogging about them. So to remedy that problem, you have the honor of witnessing my first ever photo dump. Yeah, I’ve done monthly wrap ups, and I even did an entire blog recap when I hit 100 posts. But this time, I don’t really have a reason for sharing random photos, except just for the sheer joy of putting them out there. So, grab a tall glass of sweet tea and get comfy…

During the month of April I celebrated my 20+10+1 birthday. (I’ll let you do the math.)

Bubba makes a homemade birthday cake for me every year. And every year Annie-dog supervises.

Besides the delicious cake, I also received tulips for my birthday. Purple ones…

And white ones! Oh, and I finally got to use my owl vase!

The weekend before my birthday we took a little trip down to Las Cruces  where we viewed the raging Rio Grande River.

Visited with Bubba’s family…

Dined at one of our favorite Italian food establishments…

Then on our way home, saw many desolate areas…

After all the birthday celebrating had calmed down, it was time to celebrate Easter. One of my favorite holidays, not only is it a holiday filled with pretty pastels and Peeps (come on how could you not love sugar covered marshmallows?) it’s also a day to celebrate our Savior’s glorious resurrection.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

Apparently, this photo dump turned into a recap of April, and of course a recap of a national holiday, my birthday!!

Los Angeles: The Sights

Woo hoo! The final post of my Los Angeles shots, aren’t you excited to see all the sights that I deemed worthy to shoot, edit, and ultimately post on Casa de Yellow? I know, I can’t wait either…

So, where to start…how about with some random shots? Is that ok?? Well, since no one answered, I’ll start with some of my favorites.

I’m a sucker for interesting architecture, there were so many grogeous buildings downtown.

Aside from ooohing and aawwing over the architecture, I went on a few tours of the grand city. Mostly I got to ride by several interesting spots.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall

Capital Records

The hotel where Whitney Houston died.

An old coffee shop that I am told is used as set in many films and TV shows.

CBS, I was hoping to get a glimpse of Craig Ferguson, but no luck.

Sony Pictures, where our tour guide ran into Will Smith. They wouldn’t let me wait around for anther Will appearance, so instead I did a little shopping. Well, window shopping, and the window was on the bus as we were driving by at  50 mph.

This was as close to the beach I got on this trip. Darn those work trips that don’t allow much time for relaxation.

At one point we took a little 15 minute break at the Griffith Observatory.

Despite the crowds, the views were spectacular!

The next day I got to go on a tour to Disneyland! Yeah, I know totally sacrificing there, all for the price of professional development. It was actually pretty cool, they showed us how the park was planned and how it’s changed the city of Anaheim over the past 60 years. (Sorry, I got all Plannery on you, my 9 to 5 is in City Planning. Exciting stuff!)

“Someday I’ll be part of his world.” If she meant Mickey, then she is definitely in his world…or in this case land.

In between conferencing and touring, I had a little time do some sight seeing on my own.

Boats, actually in the water! This is not something you see too often in the southwest, considering all we have is sandy beach.

I loved the landscaping throughout, apparently since the weather is so mild those in LA can pretty much grow anything.

 

Then I got to do some window shopping outside of a tour bus.

Doesn’t this bed look like the bed from Mad Men that Don and Betty Draper share?

Who wants a horse head lamp?

How about the whole horse? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And everyday that I was in LA I got to walk by the Staples Center, and everyday there was an event that would draw THOUSANDS of people. And those thousands would wander around the Nokia Center.

Which is across the street from the Staples Center. With loads of statues of sporting greats that I don’t really know. Except for Magic Johnson and Wayne Gretzky.

And that my friends, sums up my work trip to Los Angeles. Sorry for the 500 words and the 40 kazillion photos!

Have you ever been to the City of Angels? What was your favorite part? I have to admit, my fave place out of the entire trip, had to have been Bottega Louie. Which has to be pretty obvious since I dedicated an entire post to it!

Bottega Louie

When you heard from me last I went on about my lodging while in Los Angeles. Today I wanted to talk about where I ate while in LA., honestly there should be more pictures of food as I did eat at more than one restaurant and did have more than just beautiful baked goods. But apparently other meals weren’t nearly as camera ready as this particular dining experience.

The first meal was had at the beautiful Bottega Louie in downtown LA. I had the lasagna with the traditional meat sauce. It was pretty good, not amazing, but very edible.

Honestly though, the draw for me was the gorgeous baked goods and sweets that ol’ Louie offered.

Oh yeah, and those colorful cookies up there are called macarons they are not pronounced nor anything similar to their coconut laden cookie cousin macaroons. Theses guys are the most light and DE-licous thing I’ve had, well ever. I want to learn how to make them and decorate my home with them, they are that pretty and yummy. And of course I had to buy some to bring home. If you ever find yourself in downtown LA, I highly suggest you pay Bottega Louie a visit, but expect to pay a pretty penny. My box of five cookies was $10.

But oh so worth it, I even saved the box. Isn’t it pretty? I don’t know what I’ll do with it, but my hoarding tendencies tell me to hang on to it. Maybe I’ll keep it to store stray earrings.

Aside from the cute little cookie hamburgers, I brought back truffles for the ladies in my office:

And butter cookies for my Bubba:

All baked goods were gone in less than two days, I’d say they went over very well with their recipients!

Meals had after Bottega Louie were just as delicious but apparently weren’t nearly as photo worthy, but believe me when I say I had more to eat other than lasagna and cookies while visiting the great City of Angels. Although cookies and lasagna wouldn’t be a horrible diet, but my jeans would say probably say otherwise.

Stay tuned for the next post, I’ll be sharing all the sights I saw while in LA!