Biscuit Paint Wall: Houston, TX

Last Sunday my best friend Ashtyn came over for some girl talk and Game of Thrones.  During the girl talk part of the evening she told me about this amazing wall she found on Pinterest that just so happens to be in Houston.  She said she really wanted to take her Great Dane, Sullie, to the wall and snap some pictures.  She showed me a picture of the wall (see below) and I immediately offered to be her photographer.  
I mean how cool is this!
This my friends, is known as the #biscuitpaintwall and is connected to an adorable little shop called Biscuit Home in the Montrose area of Houston.  The wall and shop kinda jump out at you when  are driving down Westheimer Rd.  And is tucked into a funky and very creative little part of the city.  
Since we had a holiday Monday Ashtyn picked me up and we made our way to the wall around 11:00am.  Sadly the shop itself was closed due to the holiday but we came at just the right time to have the wall completely to ourselves………for a good 20 minutes.  Right as we were leaving another car pulled up.
The wall was painted by French artist, Sebastien Boileau in May of 2014 and adds just the right amount the fun and life to the building itself.  I mean who wouldn’t want to pose for a picture in front of all these colors?!  I really wish the store had been open for us to go in and browse around but I did visit their website and can report that they have some really cute and eclectic home decor items, office accessories, and apothecary items (most of which are on the pricey side).  You can visit their website by clicking here to see what I’m taking about!  
Also by clicking here you can read a little bit more about the history of the shop and the wall itself.
Now onto the goods! 

It was a pretty hot afternoon, thus the reason for all the tongue pictures!  I also had Ashtyn snap a few pictures of me, because that’s what any good blogger does! 🙂

This entire outfit is brought to you by Old Navy.  From the white tank, to the chambray shirt, pink shorts, and the grey shoes I’ve mentioned several times I’m completely obsessed with.

Ashtyn and I had a blast taking pictures in front of the wall.  I highly recommend making the Biscuit Color Wall a stop if you plan to visit Houston anytime soon.  And if you’re a native Houstonian and have never visited, put it on your to-do list right this minute.  You won’t regret it.  Promise! 🙂
Disclaimer: All the pictures are taken by me! 

Women’s Health Month

I can hardly believe it but we are already into the last full week of May.  Not that I’m complaining in the least since summer break is literally right around the corner but I do wish time would slow down just a tad.  Before I know it it’ll be October, which means it will be time for my monthly doctors visit.
In case you didn’t know, May is Women’s Health Month.  The month specifically dedicated to bring awareness to women’s health.  If you’re like me, this is brand new information to you.  I had zero clue that there was a whole month dedicated to being awareness to Women’s Health.  But the more I thought about it the more I realized how important it is.
Why?
Well, I had a nasty little scare a few years ago after my very first visit to the “lady doctor” as I like to call it.  It was the summer of 2007 and I was home from my first year away at college.  And because I was 18 my Mom said it would be a good idea to go ahead and start having my yearly exam.  I had met the doctor a few times, because my Mom wanted me to be as comfortable as possible when it was actually my time to have my first appointment.  Still though it was super uncomfortable and scary.  But I survived the actual exam like hundreds of thousands of women before me. And my doctor made me feel 100% comfortable.  (In fact each of the 4 doctors I’ve had, from El Paso, to Orlando, to Houston have been fantastic!)
 What I wasn’t expecting was a call from said doctor that I had abnormal test results. (I’ll never forget the actual date, 7/21/07, because it was the day that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out)  Now I’m not going to go into any details because it’s not something that I feel comfortable fully sharing here.  But I will tell you that the next few months were the some of the scariest of my life.  I was a nervous wreck as more test were done.  Thankfully everything turned out all right.  But just the idea that my situation could have been worse is terrifying.  Even to this day.
More than anything it made me so grateful to my Mom for making me go for my yearly exam at the age of 18.  Now no matter what city I’m living in I make sure to have my yearly exam.  And so should you.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay on top of your health ladies.  It is not something you want to mess with.  
The friendly people over at Oscar Insurance have provided me with this very helpful info graphic that gives you a helpful reminder as to at what age you should get specific screenings.  If you’re interested Oscar provides health insurance in New York and New Jersey, moving into California and Texas soon, with a handful of tools to make healthcare a simple, stress-free process.  Be sure to check out more on their healthcare plans here.
I’ve have a bunch of friends and family members who avoided major health problems because they made sure to get the proper screenings at the proper age, myself included!
In case you don’t want to read the entire info graphic here are the highlights for women between the ages of 20-35 (because I feel like that is the key age group of women who read this blog) here are the basic highlights:
1. Start going for your yearly exam in your 20s (earlier if you become sexually active or just want to be safe like me).  At this exam your doctor will check your blood pressure, weight, etc.  And then give you a basic check up (including feeling your boobs for you!).
2.  Keep yourself aware of your own body and visit a doctor if you notice any irregularities.
3. Be sure to schedule your appoints every year. Or as suggested by your doctor.  Most insurances will cover your yearly exam, also known as your “Well Woman” exam.  If not then usually the most you’ll have to pay is your co-pay. (That’s what I had to do in Florida).
That is basically it y’all.  It’s actually really easy to stay on top of and is something that you should definitely put at the top of your to-do list if you haven’t already.  
I know I’m super glad I did and still do stay on top of my health.  And you will be too.

Long Weekends Are the Best

Well the last long weekend for we teachers has come to an end.  Now I just have 8 days to get through and I’m home free for the summer.

I clumped Monday into part of the weekend since I didn’t have to go to work thanks to Memorial Day.  And it’s a good thing I did because I would have had a very boring weekend to report on.  In large part because I’m not allowing myself to do anything that costs money (well actually my bank account isn’t allowing me too).  
Here were the highlights:
-Started a new book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  And I’m pretty sure by the time I finish it will be added to the list of my favorite books of all time.

– Had 3 glorious mornings of coffee in bed.  
– Cleaned the house (because it needed to be done and there was nothing else to do)
– Watched several documentaries on Netflix.  Including one called Fed Up about childhood obesity and where it came from.  Watch it. It’s pretty eye opening.
-Ate my favorite go-to snack like 4 times.  It consists of avocado, salsa, and lime flavored tortilla chips.  Try it.  You’ll love it.

-Got woken up at 5:30am on Sunday morning thanks to a very loud thunder/lightening storm and an alarm on my phone telling me to take shelter because of a tornado.
-Stumbled on this quote on Pinterest that I really hope is true considering the current state of my bank account.
– Watched Game of Thrones with my best friend Ashtyn.  This was my favorite episode so far.  I feel like so much happened and was set up!  Cannot wait for next week!
– Sunday found me taking some pictures of Ashtyn and her Great Dane, Sullie at this Houston site.  Plan to share the pictures in a post later this week.
– This one isn’t so much a highlight as it is just something that happened:  The severe thunderstorm that woke me up Sunday morning pretty much covered all of Central Texas.  The storms were so bad in San Marcos, Texas (where I went to college) that the rivers that run through the city completely over flooded a large part of the city.  Here are some pictures:

(Pictures taken from Google Images)


Thoughts and prayers go out to all the families affected!  
Pretty good long weekend overall.  During the school year I really wish we had more of these babies. Now to just finish out the last 8 days of the school year! 
Have a great Tuesday friends!

Throwback Thursday: 8th Grade Me

With only 10 days of school left, I’m getting into the phase that most teachers get into at the end of the school year, reflection.  What did I do well this year?  What could I improve on?  What worked? What didn’t work?  What will I do different?

All of these questions have gone through my head.  And I will be dedicating a full post to my thoughts on the school year before it’s officially over.  But what I’ve really been focusing on is how different 8th graders today are from when I was an 8th grader.  
And being that it’s “Throwback Thursday” I figured this was the perfect opportunity to share a few pictures from that most awkward of years and give you lovely readers a glimpse into the 8th grade me. 
Side note: I have Jenny to thank for the following pictures.  She and I became best friends in middle school and she put together a photo album of pictures from 2001-2002.  Sorry for the poor quality, I had to snap pictures of the pictures with my iPhone because our scanner wasn’t working.
8th Grade Me: 2001-2002
I was a cheerleader.  And a flyer.  This lasted exactly 1 year and then I got too tall.
Cheer camp Summer 2001
9/11 happened.  A day I will never forget.
My friends and I went and got individual and group pictures taken like 3 times at the mall.   We went to those little studios in the mall, where you could pick your background.  Then we bought a bunch and passed them out to our friends with little notes on the back. 
Fall 2001 vs. Spring 2002
I wore braces.

I had bangs.  
N*SYNC was the best boy band around and still is.
I finally learned how to wear makeup.  (In 7th grade I thought it was super cool to wear really think white eyeliner as my eyeshadow.)
These girls were my best friends. 
Whitney, Jenny (my current roommate), Audrey, and me

I wore a school uniform and rocked khaki overalls.
My mom worked at my school.  It was embarrassing and great all at the same time.
I went to 8th grade prom in a limo with my best friends and our “dates”.  
I remember being totally in love with my dress.  It was light purple and white and had a lace up back and a small train.  My mom still has it hanging in her closet.
 Going to the mall and walking around on the weekends was the “thing” to do.  We did it pretty much every weekend.
I was in 2 different Quinceanera’s.  Here’s the picture to prove it.  Look at that hair.
I thought I was so cool because I went to 3 different concerts.  No Doubt, N*SYNC, and a radio concert called the Power Jam.  My mom didn’t know I went…….I may have fibbed about where I was going that night.  
 During Homecoming week we had “dress up” like this one…..Pajama Day, Twin Day, etc.  I was obsessed with the shirts with sayings on them.  Like this one.
I competed in a Lip Sync competition to Britney Spear’s “Crazy” and won.
I won Ms. CMS.  An awarded voted on by all the teachers for the best all around girl. 
Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone was released in theaters and we went as an 8th grade class to see it.  Then our English teachers held a “sorting” ceremony for the 7th graders because they were reading it in class and I got to be Prefect for Ravenclaw.
Clearly I was super cool in the 8th grade.  Much cooler than all the 8th graders I teach anyway.  The problems, emotions, and worries are pretty much the same though.  And I for one would not want to go back and relive my 8th grade year.   Unless it was to listen to N*SYNC again and not have to pay bills.  Then I would do it in a heartbeat.
Now I’m dying to know….what were y’all like in 8th grade? 🙂

Your Next Favorite Book: 3 in 1

I have been powering through book after book these last few weekends.   That is when I find I have the most time and desire to sit and read a book.  When I get home from school most evenings I just want to lose my self in trashy TV.  But on the weekends I want to savor and enjoy the time with a cup of coffee and my current read.  So that is exactly what I’ve been doing.

Now I’m sharing 3 of my most recent books.

I read all different genres of books.  And these 3 books could not be more different.  But I really enjoyed each of them.

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson


Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, is attending a fundraiser when he is suddenly accosted and accused of being a former Nazi SS officer named Otto Piatek, the Butcher of Zamosc. Although the charges are denounced as preposterous, his accuser is convinced he is right and engages attorney Catherine Lockhart to bring Rosenzweig to justice. Solomon persuades attorney Catherine Lockhart to take his case, revealing that the true Piatek was abandoned as a child and raised by Solomon’s own family only to betray them during the Nazi occupation. But has Solomon accused the right man?

Once We Were Brothers is Ronald H. Balson’s compelling tale of two boys and a family who struggle to survive in war-torn Poland, and a young love that struggles to endure the unspeakable cruelty of the Holocaust. Two lives, two worlds, and sixty years converge in an explosive race to redemption that makes for a moving and powerful tale of love, survival, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit. 

My thoughts: I’m a huge fan of historical fiction.  Mixing real life events with fiction is a great way to be entertained and learn a little history.  And although they are usually really heavy and cause endless amounts of tears, I enjoy reading books about World War II.  This book does an amazing job of mixing that history with a fiction story.  At times when I was reading I didn’t realize that it was a fiction book.  The story is told with such a great voice and with so much detail that you actually feel like you are in Poland.  I totally wish our EuroTrip was taking us to Poland.  Guess that will be on my next trip!

The Promise of Star Dust by Priscille Sibley

Synopsis on Goodreads:

Matt Beaulieu was two years old the first time he held Elle McClure in his arms, seventeen when he first kissed her under a sky filled with shooting stars, and thirty-three when he convinced her to marry him. Now in their late 30s, the deeply devoted couple has everything-except the baby they’ve always wanted.

When an accident leaves Elle brain dead, Matt is devastated. Though he cannot bear the thought of life without her, he knows Elle was afraid of only one thing-a slow death. And so, Matt resolves to take her off life support.

But Matt changes his mind when they discover Elle’s pregnant. While there are no certainties, the baby might survive if Elle remains on life support. Matt’s mother, Linney, disagrees with his decision. She loves Elle, too, and insists that Elle would never want to be kept alive on machines. Linney is prepared to fight her son in court-armed with Elle’s living will.

Divided by the love they share, Matt and Linney will be pitted against each other, fighting for what they believe is right, and what they think Elle would have wanted resulting in a controversial legal battle that will ultimately go beyond one family . . . and one single life.

My thoughts:  Oh my gosh this book.  This book was deep and loving and thoughtful.  It made me question so much about my beliefs and made me realize how powerful having faith is.  Faith in yourself, in your family, and in the Lord.  This was definitely another tear jerker and has some of the prettiest language and dialogue that I’ve read in along time.  Definitely read this book and be sure to have a box of Kleenex waiting beside you.  It also made me want to be an astronaut.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Synopsis on Goodreads:

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend, but when he doesn’t show up, she leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand, but following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

My thoughts: This book took me about 50 pages to really get into.  But I’m so glad I stuck through it because I really liked it.  It’s a thriller that will have you wanting to get back to the book as soon as you can to see what happens.  At least that’s what it did for me.  It is told from the perspective of 3 people , which at first I thought was going to be annoying but in reality it made the telling of the story so much more interesting and intricate.  And the last few chapters really do make the story!

Like I said, each book is SO different that I can’t say that I liked one more than the other.  They each were great reads for their own reasons.  And y’all should totally read each of them!

Happy Reading Friends! 🙂

13 Things I’ve Thought While Watching Naked and Afriad

This weekend was extremely uneventful.  Like so uneventful I didn’t even take any pictures.  Save for one picture of Sadie.  The entire weekend was spent on the couch or in my bed watching TV or reading.  So there really wasn’t any need for a weekend post.

************

Last weekend I discovered a brand new TV show that I have slowly become obsessed with, it’s called Naked and Afraid.  It airs on the Discovery Channel and you can catch new episodes on Sundays.

What is the premise behind the show you ask?  Well basically a man and a woman are dropped into an uninhabited area, naked, and have to try and survive for 21 days.  What do they win if they survive?  Absolutely nothing save for the knowledge that they have what it takes to survive in the wilderness, naked, building their own shelters, and hunting for food.

I’ve watched quite a few episodes of the show because once I start watching it I can’t stop. I even recorded a few episodes on Saturday night because it was late and I wanted to watch it later.

As I’ve watched the show I can’t help but have various thoughts run through my head.  And I’ve decided to share them with all of you.

1.  No toothbrush…..gross.

2. Okay……I’m not even that comfortable being naked and letting myself look at…well myself….much less let a complete stranger see me that way. I would probably make a bra and butt flap of some kind as soon as I could.

3. Bugs.  ALL THE BUGS.  Getting in every crevice and biting in every crevice.  I’m itchy and uncomfortable just thinking about it.

4. What if I were to start my lady time while I was there.  How would that work?  And how did women survive so long without tampons?  Those things are one of the best inventions in the history of world.  (In two of the episodes I saw…that actually happened. But the ladies never explained how they took care of that particular problem.)

5. I do not want to have to work that hard to find food.  I really don’t think I could have survived in primitive times.  Like at all.


6.  Each person gets to bring one thing with them that will help them survive….most people bring a machete and a fire starter.  I’ve seen a few pots too.  I think I would bring the fire starter.  Because hello it provides heat for both warmth and cooking AND would scare away animals.

7. One of my fears is water where I can’t see my feet.  Some of the episodes have them swimming in muddy, murky lakes and ponds.  No…just no.  And your naked….you could get bitten or have fish swim up your butt or in your lady parts.  I’m clenching just thinking about it.

8. Extreme hot or extreme cold?  People on the show have run into both depending on the location.…for example in the Himalayan Mountains it was freezing and in Africa it was hot as hell.  My choice….I will my chances with the heat….at least you can dip into the creepy murky water and cool off a tad.

9. I’m sorry I’m still trying to get past the part where these people are totally naked.

10. Not only are would there be bugs everywhere but you’d be getting dirt and mud and all kinds of mystery brown stuff all over yourself.  Blegh….yet another cringe worthy idea.

11. In just about every episode I’ve seen it has rained.  So not only would you be laying on the ground under a bunch of sticks and branches and have leaves and grass as padding to sleep on, you’d be wet, cold or hot, hungry, thirsty, and probably mega cranky.  At least I would be.

12. I’m 90% sure I would be the winiest person the show has every seen if I were to go on the show.  Mind you I would have to be forced to ever in my wildest dreams even consider being Naked and Afraid for 21 days.   I feel bad for my hypothetical partner just thinking about it.

13.  Literally every person loses at least 20 pounds by the time the 21 days is up.  At least all my pudge would be gone.

These two look absolutely thrilled with their situation.  And the worst of it is…..these fools VOLUNTEERED FOR THIS!!!

All in all, highly entertaining show to watch.  Like I said once I watch one episode I can’t seem to change the channel.  I want to see all the locations they send these people.  I highly recommend watching at least one episode of this show if only to cringe and make fun of all these crazy people who think is a good idea to show off their survival skills while being Naked and Afraid.

PS. Don’t Google Naked and Afraid for pictures without first putting either “Discovery Channel” or “TV show” before it/after it.  You’ll get some completely different versions of “naked and afraid” and your eyes will not thank you.  Trust me. I learned the hard way.

Have a great Wednesday! 🙂

My Obsession with Afternoon Tea

If you know me, you know I absolutely adore afternoon tea.  
I was first introduced to the concept of afternoon tea in 2009.  I was visiting Disney World for Spring Break and had heard that you can take a traditional afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian hotel next to the Magic Kingdom.  I immediately called my friends who would be visiting Disney World with me and asked if they wanted to have tea with me. Thankfully they said yes and so one afternoon my obsession was ignited.  
I just adore afternoon tea.  There is nothing quite like sitting around with beautiful china, small sandwich, scones, and desserts while sipping a yummy cup of tea.  I love the conversation you’re able to have with the ladies you take tea with and the overall atmosphere of having tea in a beautiful setting.
My first trip to the Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian in 2009, I have returned to this same tea room at least once a year, sometimes twice a year if I had special guests visiting who I wanted to take part in the experience.  
The collage shows all the different times I’ve taken tea at the Garden View Tea Room.  Their china is my favorite design, the Royal Albert collection.  The room only holds about 35-40 people so it’s a good idea to make a reservation in advance, especially if you have a large party attending tea with you.  They have huge bay windows over looking the Grand Floridians garden.  It really is the perfect setting.  
Tea time is from 12pm-5pm.  And if you make your reservation between 2 and 4 you get to enjoy the musical entertainment offered by the hotel.  You can expect to hear either the piano player playing some Disney classics and favorites.  Or you can hear the Grand’s jazz band playing big band hits as well as the Disney classics.
I think I like posing with my tea cup.  Here we have the years of 2011 and 2013.  
The menu at the Garden View Tea Room includes:
A pot of Tea of your choice
Tea Sandwiches
Raisin Scones w/ lemon curd, strawberry jam and clotted cream
Selection of pastries or Strawberries and Cream or tradition English Trifle
While the Garden View Tea Room is the place I’ve been to the most for afternoon tea it is not the only place I’ve been.

This tea room is located in Albuquerque, NM and is such an amazing setting for tea.  As you walk in they have a cute little tea shop where you can purchase tea, tea time accessories and other cute little nick knacks.  The rest of the rooms are designated for afternoon tea.  Each space is a little different and is themed different.  For example the space our party was seated in a Pride and Prejudice themed space.  They had each space sectioned off by large drapes to give each party privacy if they choose.  
Now keep in mind I’ve only visited this space once and that was back in 2010.  I would really like to visit again and take pictures of the room with my big fancy camera because it really is a gorgeous setting.  I took a few pictures while I was there but my camera was not the best so the pictures are very overexposed and the lighting is terrible. 

Like most tea rooms the St. James has different levels of afternoon tea you can enjoy.  And prices vary depending on the level of tea your party decides to partake in.  What I loved about this room was that you got to enjoy different teas with the different courses.  As it was served the waitress would recommend the best way to take the tea.  With or without cream and white or brown sugar.  Btw, brown sugar cubes in tea is the best.

Hosting your own Afternoon Tea

I call the summer of 2010 the summer of the Afternoon Tea.  We visited 2 different tea rooms one being the St. James Tea Room and the other was one in Las Cruces, NM.  The one in Las Cruces was so so and I didn’t take any photos while we were there.

But I did host an afternoon tea myself, for Jenny’s birthday and we attended another hosted by a friend of Jenny’s mom.

Unfortunately no photos were taken at the birthday tea I had for Jenny, save for one of the table.  We used a variety of different tea cups which made for an eclectic afternoon tea.  My mom has a small collection that used to belong to her grandmother and we found a few others at an antique shop.

Now I did snap a few of the tea hosted by the friend of Jenny’s mom.  She had the prettiest little set up.  We had tea sandwiches, little strudel cakes, chocolate covered strawberries, and she served different types of T winnings tea.  She provided each of us with a cute little party favors in the form of books giving little tips for hosting your own tea, as well as, recipes for different sandwiches, scones, and desserts.

I am so excited to be visiting the afternoon tea capital of the world this summer.  We have plans to have tea at The Orangery at Kensington Palace.  I’ve been checking the website everyday so we can make a reservation for one of the afternoons we’ll be in London.  
If you’re a fan of afternoon tea I highly suggest reading the following blogs.  They do a fantastic job of reviewing the best places to have tea while in London.  
Aspiring Kennedy – Her To a Tea Series is phenomenal.  A few of her posts also give you some tips for the actual art (yes it’s an art) of drinking tea.  Plus she’s from Dallas, has the cutest baby in the world, and pretty much is living my dream life! 🙂  
Rhyme and Ribbons – Another American born Londoner, she has a great list of reviews of restuarnats and tea rooms around London.  

Additionally if you want a laugh and to look at some pretty pictures click here and it will take you to a BuzzFeed article about taking Afternoon Tea at the Fortnum & Mason as department store/restuarant in London.
I am so beyond excited for my Afternoon Tea at Kensington Palace.  Not only do Will and Kate live there but the pictures look absolutely amazing!
Have you ever taken afternoon tea? If so, how was it?