As I mentioned in my 2017 Reflection post, I accomplished a lot last year. But in true perfectionist fashion, I am determined to accomplish even more this year. I’ve never been one for setting strict resolutions, but I do like to set goals for myself to have an idea of what I’m working towards. So here are some of the things I would love to do in 2018….
Write the first draft of my book
Perhaps my most hefty goal, I would love to get started and hopefully write a first draft of a book. I’ve had the idea for it for years now, and have written parts of it on and off for a while now, but I want 2018 to be the year I actually take it seriously. I don’t want to give too many details about it yet, but I will definitely keep you all posted on my progress!
Travel to at least 3 new places
Like I mentioned in my 2017 Reflections, I was lucky to be able to travel quite a bit last year. However, it only made me want to travel even more this year! There are a few places in Texas I still haven’t visited, along with a few other states and countries that are on my wish list. Honorable mentions go to San Francisco, New Orleans, and anywhere in South America. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to make it to at least three new places!
Find a workout routine
Working out and I have a strained relationship. I tend to go through periods of time where I exercise on a regular basis, and then periods where I don’t so much as go on a walk. I’m hoping to make 2018 the year I finally get consistent. I haven’t decided on a specific schedule yet, but I just want to get on a routine that I feel comfortable with. As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, exercise makes me feel happier as a whole. Happy body, happy mind!
Find a blogging/YouTube routine
Like exercise, I tend to go through slumps in my blogging and, more recently, my YouTube channel. I guess everyone experiences that with resolutions to a certain extent, but I would like to get into a routine with uploading YouTube videos consistently, and writing new blog posts consistently. Again, I haven’t decided on the schedule, but I would just like to stay consistent and have a goal to work towards every week/month.
Try new restaurants in Austin
Despite the fact that I was born and raised in Austin, I sometimes feel woefully ignorant to where the best restaurants are in the city. I always enjoy exploring new places (hence the travel resolution above), so why not explore within my own city? This year I’m hoping to discover some new favorite places to eat. And I will definitely capture them on this blog!
Learn an instrument
Last but certainly not least, possibly the most fun and exciting resolution I have is to pick up an instrument! I played piano and violin in grade school, and I was in choir in high school. I’ve always loved music, and the past couple of years I have had the urge to start playing an instrument and/or singing again. My dad recently got a ukulele, and I’ve been thinking about getting one myself! Either that or a cheap keyboard to learn how to play piano again. Like my other resolutions, I will keep you all posted on what I decide.
I’m pleased to say I’m feeling very optimistic about the coming year. I know I said this last year, but I am determined to make 2018 MY YEAR! What are some of your 2018 resolutions? And what are your tips for sticking to them all year round? Let me know in the comments!
This weekend I did my part to help Keep Austin Weird by participating in the Weird Homes Tour. The tour is a self-paced, self-driving tour where you drive to different areas of Austin and walk through unique homes. The houses were all “weird” in different ways, some incorporating artistic elements, others showcasing more interesting architecture.
I got a lot of photos during my tour, and thought it would be fun to share them with you all, along with my thoughts on each of the homes. I’ve put them in order of least favorite to favorite, but overall enjoyed walking through each and every house!
Riggins’ Cabinet of Curiosities
The first house we visited was actually used as the home of a main character on a famous TV show. Let me know if you can guess which one in the comments! Hint: the name of the house gives it away if you’ve seen the show. (If you are absolutely stuck, click here for the answer.)
The reason this house was my least favorite was because it seemed a bit cluttered and didn’t have a clear theme, or as many artistic elements as the others. On the other hand, there was a lot to look at and people who know a lot about history might have liked it more than I did. The owner of the house mentioned she had many knick knacks from past decades, and a history buff could have spent more time looking around and finding interesting things in that house.
The Torres Temple
This next home was really clean and simple, unlike the previous one. The reason it comes in second to last place is because I didn’t feel it had enough “weird.” While the Cabinet of Curiosities was basically overflowing with weird, the Torres Temple left me wondering what was so weird about it.
This house immediately peaked my interest more than the previous two, and not just because of the on point pun in the name (it was an old warehouse, now used as a hostel for the creatively-minded). Artists, dancers, musicians (including Kendrick Lamar according to a man we talked to who lived there) all gather here to perform together and spread good vibes.
I really liked all of the artistic touches, from the chalk paintings out front to the paintings on the wall of the bedroom, and the various art pieces hanging around the warehouse. The only reason this was not higher on my list was because it felt more like an art gallery or some kind of studio as opposed to a “real house”, and I was more wowed by a couple of the traditional homes that still managed to be “weird.”
Florence’s Comfort House
Coming in second place, this home really did have an element of comfort, with plenty of hippie vibes. I would say this house was the most iconically Austin, from the bejeweled guitars to the messages about peace. It also was the only house where the backyard was the main attraction instead of the inside of the house, which made it stand out from the rest.
And finally, my choice for first place goes to Under The Sea! I had high hopes for this one just by looking at the name (I’m a Pisces after all), and it did not disappoint. I thought this one did the best job of being weird, while still having cohesiveness and artistic elements without being too cluttered. My favorite part was the garden in the backyard, which had this awesome fence painted with sea creatures (including mermaids).
The inside of the house was just as whimsical. I loved all of the details in the dining area, from the colorful teacups to the tiled wall and the peacock-patterned lamp. The kitchen counter was also really cool, with lots of beads and photo cutouts under the surface.
The final detail I wanted to mention was the bathroom, which had an awesome color-changing sink, which lit up and changed colors from green to pink.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of some of Austin’s weirdest homes. Based on these photos and my descriptions, which one do you think your favorite would be? Let me know in the comments!
Be sure to check out the Weird Homes Tour on Twitter and Facebook, and look through the hashtag #WeirdHomes on Twitter and Instagram to see more awesome photos from the events in Austin, Houston and New Orleans.
Last weekend I got the chance to check “wine tasting” off of my bucket list. My friend Heather invited me to join her and two other friends to drive to Fredericksburg, Texas (a small town about an hour and a half west of Austin) for a fun day of wine tasting! I’d always wanted to explore wineries, and had heard Fredericksburg was home of a lot of great ones, so of course I was game.
Our first stop before the wineries was lunch at Auslander, a popular German restaurant/beer garden. We did not partake in the beer part since we wanted to save ourselves for the wineries later, but the food was delicious! I tried the jagerschnitzel with potato salad, and it did not disappoint.
Once our stomachs were happy and filled with amazing German food, we drove towards the wineries and ended up stopping at a random one none of us had heard of, but we liked the name: Fiesta Winery. Fiesta had a cute outdoor seating area, complete with an old cowboy singing classic country songs. The tastings were done inside at the bar, so we went in and got to tasting! One of the things I liked about Fiesta was that their menus had descriptions of some of the ingredients and the flavors of each of the wines. We were able to choose six to try, and the descriptions made it easier for me to decide since I had an idea of what was in each of them.
After our tasting we sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather for a bit, before venturing to our second (and final) stop of the day: Becker’s Vineyard. Overall we enjoyed the atmosphere and general vibe of Becker’s better than Fiesta, but it was also more expensive and fancy, so it depends on what you are in the mood for. The wine list also didn’t have descriptions, which I was disappointed by being someone who isn’t good at recognizing names of wine without more context.
However, the wine was really good and we were able to sit in the sun and relax for while, and even ate a snack at the food truck they have there. Becker’s is also a lavender shop, which was a huge draw for me. I have always loved lavender, and though I did not buy any of the products they had (including soap, lotion and linen sprays), I will definitely go back sometime and treat myself.
Overall, I would rate my first winery experience a solid 10/10 (the great company may have swayed my vote a bit). If you have a free Saturday, I would highly recommend taking a trip to Fredericksburg, or your neighboring wine town, and making a day of it. Fredericksburg also has a lot of shopping, other restaurants, and tons of other wineries to explore, so I am definitely planning on going back when I get the chance.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever been wine tasting or been to Fredericksburg, or if it’s still on your bucket list!
I dropped the ball on my monthly recap posts since June, so I thought I would bundle the main highlights from the last few months into one blog post to catch you guys up on my life. Enjoy!
Family Beach Vacation
Growing up, my family and I used to go to Port Aransas every summer. We hadn’t been in a few years, so we decided to take a trip for old time’s sake. I took three days off of work, and left my laptop at home so I could completely disconnect and have some much-needed relaxation time. (I’m thinking of writing a post about how to have a work-free vacation, so let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in that.)
It was my ideal type of vacation, because it had the perfect mix of chill-out time and adventuring. We spent a good amount of time reading, swimming in the pool and ocean, and watching the Olympics, but we also went out and explored new places in Corpus Christie like the botanical gardens (where a parrot with no beak hung out on my shoulder) and the aquarium!
One of my first ever friends, literally from when I was an infant, got married in August! Although she and I haven’t stayed in touch very well in recent years, my mom and her mom have remained best friends, and I was really excited to be able to attend her wedding. It was cool to to witness such a big milestone in her life and to remember playing with her when we were kids. Time really does fly!
This was the third wedding Brian and I have attended together, so it was fun having him there with me along with my parents. Their reception was in a really cool lounge area. It was decorated with beautiful flowers, and the lighting was perfect. They also had an adorable slideshow playing with baby pictures, and I made it into one of the pictures!
Last month, my friend Lauren (who I wrote about in my June Recap post) came to visit me for the weekend! It was so much fun having her here, and we managed to fit a lot of fun into a few days. We went to the Blue Cat Cafe (mentioned in my May Recap post), and ate delicious food at Voodoo, Spun, and Gourdough’s.
On Sunday we went to an awesome event put on by Aerie, where we got to take free yoga classes, and meet the very sweet and super inspirational model Iskra Lawrence! Aerie is a unique brand in that they don’t retouch or Photoshop any of their models, and they make an effort to promote body positivity for young girls. I love everything they stand for, and it was really great to meet Iskra and get to hear her talk about how she has managed to stay positive and love herself despite the media and people in the modeling industry making it difficult.
Family Time in Wimberley
My parents recently rented a house in Wimberley, and they’ve been staying out there almost every weekend. It’s right on the creek, and they are walking distance from a coffee shop, some restaurants, and even a library which they are now members of.
My younger sister and her boyfriend went out to stay with them for a weekend in September, so Brian and I went out on Sunday and we all got to swim and have a nice lunch at The Leaning Pear (which I mentioned in my June Recap). It was really nice visiting with everyone and having a “triple date”, and I can definitely see why my parents are loving it out there so much. It’s so peaceful and quiet compared to the bustle of the city, which makes for a great escape on the weekends.
I hope you enjoyed reading about what I’ve been up to the past few months! I will definitely try to write a recap every month like I did in May and June, so be on the lookout for an October Recap next month.
Answer in the comments: What was your favorite memory from the last three months?
I kicked off June with a few exciting anniversaries, the first of which being my company’s five year anniversary! I remember when I was an intern and we celebrated two years, so it’s pretty cool to see how far we’ve come since then. Our founder, Kristen, planned a fun getaway for us in Wimberley. We all spent one night there and enjoyed the beautiful views, delicious food and drinks at The Leaning Pear, and good company of course. The picture above is Kristen standing on a bridge over the creek that was right by where we stayed.
Year and a Half Anniversary: June 5th
The second anniversary I was lucky enough to celebrate was a year and a half with my boyfriend. He asked me to be his girlfriend on December 5, 2015, and I gotta say I am very glad I said yes! This is my first long-term relationship, so 18 months seems like a long time to me.
To celebrate our anniversary, we tried a new restaurant my mom suggested called Chez Zee’s and it was a great night. The ambiance is really cute and romantic, and the food certainly did not disappoint. We will definitely be going back again soon!
Houston Weekend Trip: June 10-12
The following weekend I made a slightly spontaneous trip down to Houston to visit one of my best friends from college, Lauren. She just moved there from Chicago, and had been wanting me to visit since we live so much closer to each other now. The trip was a lot of fun! We spent a lot of the time playing with two adorable dogs, one of which is Lauren’s bulldog Daisy, and the other was a Rottweiler Lauren was watching named Brutus. In the picture above, Daisy and Brutus were play fighting on the couch. It was hilarious to watch! I don’t have a dog of my own, so I always enjoy playing with other people’s when I get the chance.
When we weren’t dog sitting, we spent our time at Lauren’s pool, trying new restaurants, and spending time with some of her new friends. It was a great weekend!
Plano Weekend Trip for Flag Day: June 17-19
I had two weekends in a row of short road trips. This weekend my boyfriend and I drove up to Plano, TX for a family-reunion-of-sorts, which was centered around the often-forgotten holiday, Flag Day. Basically Brian’s uncle just built a pool in his backyard and was looking for an excuse to have a party, so he decided they should celebrate Flag Day and invite the entire extended family to join in on the fun. Each person (or couple) was tasked with representing a certain flag, and bringing the actual flag if possible. Brian found the Earth Flag on Amazon (above), so we brought that. I think ours was the most unique, if I do say so myself.
We spent all day Saturday spending time with his family, playing various games including pool volleyball, corn hole, and beer pong, and of course eating yummy snacks. I’d already met a lot of Brian’s family, but it was nice meeting more of them and putting a face to some names. Unfortunately we somehow left that weekend without a single photo, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say it was a blast!
Quantum Leap: June 24-26
Last but not least, I ended the month attending Quantum Leap, which I mentioned in my last blog College Grad Ramblings: No More Classes. It was a three day event, beginning with a welcome reception at a hotel on Thursday night, where my sister and I met a few new people who were also attending the seminar the next day. The funniest thing that happened that night was when a guy asked if I had a business card, and when I actually pulled one out he seemed shocked and I realized he had been joking. He then asked if he could add us on Snapchat. I’ve never felt more old. Is Snapchat the new networking platform?
Friday we listened to Gary Keller talk all day, and it was very inspirational. He talked a lot about goal setting, and it really motivated me to set goals for my blog. I’d love to grow my audience on here!
The final day was a few hours on Saturday, where we discussed what we had learned on Friday, and got the opportunity to actually write down our goals and how we plan to achieve them. All in all it was a very informative and motivational few days, and I’m really glad I went!
That’s it for my June Recap. I hope you all enjoyed hearing about some of the highlights of the past month! On another note, I’m really close to hitting 400 followers on Twitter, so if you have an account go ahead and follow me! I mostly tweet random things I think are funny as well as live tweet The Bachelorette (no shame).
I was planning to write a May Favorites blog tonight, but then I was looking at my calendar to remind myself what all happened last month, and I felt inspired to just write about it instead! So I’m going to share some of the highlights from last month, and if you enjoy reading it, I will try to make it a monthly occurrence! I think it will be fun way for me to look back on everything I did each month.
I ended April and kicked off May driving up to Plano, TX for my boyfriend’s younger sister’s dance recital. It was a pretty short trip since we drove up Saturday morning and left Sunday afternoon, but it was a lot of fun and it was nice for my boyfriend to see his family for the first time since he moved down to Austin.
The second week of May brought Mother’s Day. I went to brunch with my parents at a restaurant we love called Bouldin Creek Cafe, and later that night I took my mom to the Pentatonix concert, which was so much fun! She’d never heard their music but she really enjoyed it and it was great bonding time.
May had a lot of special occasions to celebrate. We went from Mother’s Day right into my mom’s birthday the following week. We split the celebration into two nights, with a family dinner at Casa de Luz (her favorite restaurant) on Sunday, and dessert at Mozart’s on Monday.
This week brought a scary but rewarding experience for me, which was my first showcase for my improv class! I was really nervous, as was the rest of my class, because we all invited our family and friends to come watch, and it’s just scary to perform in front of an audience! But as soon as we started and I heard the crowd laughing during the scenes, I knew it was going to be a fun time. I’m really proud of myself for getting outside my comfort zone!
Last but not least I had a great three day weekend celebrating my sister’s birthday, as well as Memorial Day! My family and I celebrated her birthday by going to the Blue Cat Cafe, which is basically a cafe/restaurant that has a bunch of cats wondering around for you to pet and play with. Yes, it’s just as strange as it sounds. But it was fun and definitely a new experience! After that my sister and I went shopping for a bit, and then later that night my grandma, her boyfriend and my parents met us at Mozart’s for dessert (can you tell we like that place?)
Monday was Memorial Day, and my boyfriend and I spent the day at a park playing bocce ball and enjoying the nice warm weather. I had never played before, and I unfortunately lost, but I still had a blast!
Overall I would say that May was a great month for me. I had something going on every single weekend which is always nice, and I got to spend plenty of time with my family. So far June has been another awesome month, so stay tuned to hear all about it in a few weeks!
¡Hola amigos! Happy belated Easter! Though I may have been slightly jealous when the rest of you were on Spring Break a month ago, this past week definitely made all of the waiting worthwhile. In Spain, and most of the rest of Europe, they don’t really have a “Spring Break” like we do in the U.S. Instead, they have Easter Break, which falls, you guessed it, around Easter time. As I mentioned in my last post, I got a week off from class for our break, and Rowan and I decided to spend it together in Italy! We went to Venice for 4 days, and Florence for 4 days.
Venice was really cool and unlike any other city I’ve been to before. The city is on a group of islands, separated by canals and linked by a bunch of bridges. The streets are all really narrow because there are no cars on the island, and all of the streets kind of look the same (narrow, going along a canal with a bridge) so navigating around the city proved to be a difficult task. For example, it took us an extremely long time to get to our hostel because the map we had was tiny and the street we were supposed to turn on looked more like a sketchy alleyway to us (we actually called it “The Sketchy Alleyway” for the rest of our time there).
We decided to explore on our own for a while on Sunday, before we went on a walking tour. We stumbled across Teatro La Fenice, one of the most famous opera houses in Italy and all of Europe. We got to walk through the theatre and see all of the different rooms, and got free audio guides to hear about all of the history behind each room. We also got lucky enough to watch a few minutes of a rehearsal that was going on onstage. We think it was La Boheme. I wish I could have taken pictures or videos of the rehearsal, but that wasn’t allowed. But it was really cool to watch since I have never been to the opera before.
Later we went on our walking tour of the city, which was really nice because we got to hear a lot of things about the history of the city, including facts about how it is slowly sinking. The second part of our tour was on a boat, which was really fun, but apparently did not satisfy our urge to ride boats. We were really determined to go on a gondola ride down the canal, but when we asked for the price it was 80 euros per ride, which seemed way too expensive for just one ride. So we decided to try to get a group of people to go with us so we could all split the amount and it would be cheaper. This didn’t end up working out unfortunately, but we watched a lot of gondola rides and even got our picture taken by a random man who was going by on the boat, so I think we basically got the full experience.
We spent our second full day there exploring some of the nearby islands. The first is called Burano, and is a really cute little town with canals like Venice. What makes it special is that all of the houses and buildings are painted really colorfully. It has become a bit touristy, and I couldn’t help wondering what the locals think of all of these people walking by and taking pictures of their brightly painted houses, which to them must just seem normal. Next we went to Torcello, which was even tinier, and only really had one church that we went inside, and a few cafes. We stopped at one cafe to have crepes, which were delicious. We then made our way back to Venice, which proved to be more difficult than it should have been because we got on the wrong water bus and had to get off and wait for the right one to take us back.
Venice was a lot of fun, and when it was time to leave on Tuesday we definitely felt that we could have stayed and seen more even though the city is fairly small. One of the highlights was definitely our hostel owner, Amran, who shared a bunch of funny stories with us about Venice and people who have stayed in the hostel, and let us sit and talk to him for hours! When two guys from New York started giving us a hard time and making fun of Texas, Amran agreed that he would rather visit Texas than New York, which kind of made our night. We were obviously not alone in our appreciation for Amran, because behind his desk the entire wall was filled with thank you notes written by people who had stayed in the hostel. We decided to make ours have a Texas theme, and poke a little fun at the New York boys.
Tuesday afternoon we got on a train and headed to Florence, where we would stay until Friday night. The couple sitting next to us on the train were pretty friendly, and Rowan and I both agreed the husband was definitely not quite ready to leave behind his youth. He talked about his trip to Amsterdam with a bit too much enthusiasm, right before showing us pictures of his two young children.
Florence was definitely an easier city to navigate in comparison to Venice. There are a couple of big landmarks that, if you can find them, you can pretty much find anything. The first night we just wandered a bit and ended up stumbling upon a lot of the famous sights including the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Santa Maria Novella and Santa Crocce. But we waited until the next day to explore them more.
We had a list of things we wanted to do and see in Florence, and I think we did a pretty good job accomplishing all of them. We woke up bright and early Wednesday morning to go to the Uffizi Gallery, which is one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the world, and one of the top tourist attractions in the city. It took us hours to go through the whole thing, and it was definitely worth it. It has a huge collection of Renaissance art, including a lot of sculptures. Me and Rowan’s favorite part was laughing at all of the bizarre faces of the babies in paintings. Next time you go to a museum, pay special attention to the fact that all babies during the Renaissance period have the faces of adults. They don’t look like baby faces at all. It’s quite strange.
After the gallery we met up with our designated tour guide, Nathan, who I met in Barcelona and basically forced into being our tour guide for the week. He was nice enough to show us around and put up with listening to our incessant gossiping about people and places he didn’t know. First he took us to go inside the Basilica of Santa Crocce, the main church and another big tourist attraction in the city. The church happens to be the burial place of many well-known Italians, including Michelangelo, Galileo and Dante. It was really beautiful inside, with a lot of stained glass windows and really detailed wall paintings. We went back inside Thursday night, because all of the churches were free at night as part of Semana Santa (Holy Week) before Easter.
We also visited the Bobili Gardens, a big park with a lot of Roman sculptures, and Ponte Vecchio, a bridge over the Arno River, which was built back in Roman times. It is the oldest bridge in Florence, and one of the top tourist attractions. In Medieval times, Ponte Vecchio was a top place for jewelry shopping, and today the bridge is still lined with shops selling gold and jewelry as well as tourist souvenirs. We also went to Piazza Michelangelo which is on top of a hill and has an amazing view of the entire city, as well as a very pretty rose garden.
And of course I have to mention the food we ate, since this was a week in Italy and all. Rowan and I stumbled upon a couple of little cafes, one with really good pasta, and the other with salads. We were both really craving a salad, which I know sounds stupid since we were in the land of pasta, pizza, gelato, and other carb-stuffed things. But the salads we had were amazing! Nathan also took us to two different sandwich shops, which were both delicious, as well as a gelato place that serves organic flavors such as kiwi, pistachio, cinnamon and even a wine flavor. We also went to Secret Bakery, a bakery that really is secret unless you know where to find it. It is in a random alleyway, in a tiny room that I definitely would never have noticed on my own. They bake the pastries fresh, and they were delicious!
Overall my Spring Break was a week I will never forget. Italy was such a fun country to visit, and I feel like I actually learned a lot about the history from the tour in Venice (be proud mom and dad!) From the food, to the art, to the beautiful landmarks, I would definitely recommend both Venice and Florence. I hope I can go back someday and maybe explore Rome and other parts of Italy as well!
This Thursday I am traveling again, on my last trip before I return home. The semester has really flown by! I will be going to London for the weekend, then heading to Aberdeen, Scotland to visit Rowan! (Hopefully she didn’t get sick of me during our week together..)