Sunday, August 26, 2012

HMNS Cockrell Butterfly Center

About a month ago, we took a trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. We went to visit the new Paleontology Hall and the Cockrell Butterfly Center. Admittance into the CBC is $4 for members and $8 for non-members. I do believe you can just get a ticket to the butterfly center without a ticket to the main hall, so it's super budget friendly!

The CBC has more than just butterflies, so for all of you who like or who have kids who like creepy crawlies, it's got plenty to see. You walk in and up the stairs...

...and are greeted by this happy fellow:

Upstairs in the Brown Hall of Entomology are a ton of different exhibits of different bugs:

 (These are just scratching the surface. I couldn't bear to take pictures of some of them. Yuck!)

The exhibit includes a life cycle case where you can see real life chrysalis(es?) in different stages. It's really pretty neat.

There are also 2 HUGE frames of preserved butterflies.

Then, you walk outside into the Rain Forest Conservatory. It's a 3 story habitat just filled with butterflies flying around. And you get one of these handy dandy little cards to identify what you're looking at.

The butterflies just flutter around and land wherever they want to pose for pictures.

Apologies for all the moving. I was trying to capture everything that I could!

After you've wandered through the rain forest, you can treat yourself to any of these delicacies:

It was very interesting to say the least, but we just had to buy one!

We also visited the Paleontology Hall, but that's for tomorrow :)

Have you ever been to the CBC at HMNS? If so, what was your favorite part? Pin It Now!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pet Peeve Schmet Schmeeve

Hello and happy almost Friday everyone! :)

It's time for this week's pet peeve schmet schmeeve. You know the drill: stat with something that irked you and then follow it up with something that brightened your day. Ready? Go!

This week, all of my pet peeves really have a silver lining, so my pet peeves and schmet schmeeves are all rolled into one.

1. Our company is about to move to a new building. For the last couple of months, everyone has had a slightly higher stress level because we've all had responsibilities added. It's coming down to the last week and a half, so everything is crazy hectic. Everyone is running around like headless chickens and nothing is as it should be. Our cubicles are being torn down, we don't know the next time we'll see the contents of our desks, we don't know if the building will be 100% complete by the time we need to move. Hectic, I tell ya. No good for anyone.

On the bright side of that, will all the deconstruction in our office, we get to wear jeans for the next week or so if we're in the office. Normally, we don't even get to wear jeans on Fridays. I adore wearing jeans. They're almost more comfortable than comfy pants. Almost.

2. I woke up almost an hour before my alarm this morning. That means I woke up at 4:50 AM. Four. Fifty. AM. And thanks to my wonderful father, I am incapable of falling back asleep for at least a couple of hours of being awake. Ugh. Can you say coffee?

For whatever reason, though, I woke up in a fantastic mood. I put on Facebook, that I felt like a kid on Christmas. And I really did. You can't beat that. It made the day go by so fast and I was in great spirits the entire day. (I admit, I'm a bit sleepy now, but hopefully that just means I'll sleep great tonight!)

What are your pet peeves and schmet schmeeves this week? Pin It Now!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A French Countryside Wedding

A week or so ago, I shared about our day in Paris and said that what brought us to France in the first place was my best friend's wedding.

Well I really want to share some of the great experience of the wedding itself. We managed to book a flight on Air France (I HIGHLY recommend flying Air France if you can) that landed in Paris around 8:30 in the morning. Then, we hopped on a train to Montbard where we were picked up by one of the groomsmen and taken to the countryside.

Isn't it pretty?
My friend and her (now) husband had booked a gîte for the wedding party and all the guests coming from out of the country. A gîte is basically someone's house that they rent out for vacationers (similar to what you'll find in the US on HomeFinder). This was by far one of the most genius decisions ever. It allowed everyone to be centralized and just made things simple for everyone. And the views weren't bad either...

Our room had everything you could need in an accommodation and looked out over the courtyard.

The entire property had multiple buildings and our group took up 2 of them. The guests stayed all together in the larger house and the bride and her family stayed all together in the house that was about 15 steps away.

Once we got everything settled, we went in search of the bride and were greeted by this gorgeous view:

Inside the "bridal house" we were greeted by my best friend's mom, grandmother, aunt, sister and this:

Actually, this is maybe half of what we walked into. The bride's family had gone to a local market to pick up fresh yummies for crudités for the party that night.We washed and cut and prepped pounds upon pounds of veggies within hours of landing on French soil. I will say, that market had the BEST nectarines I have ever tasted in my entire life.

That evening was the couple's civil ceremony in the groom's hometown of Fresnes, Côte-d'Or. 

After this, we returned to the gîte for a party. The bride retired early, as her big day would be coming very soon. The rest of the friends and guests stayed up drinking French wine and champagne and devouring plate after plate of cheeses, meats and a variety of the groom's favorite dishes until the wee hours of the morning.

After a short nap, it was time to get up and get ready for the big day! The bride hired a hair and makeup team for her family, soon to be family and myself (just one of the perks of being in the wedding :) )

After a minor issue with nearly burning the wedding gown while trying to steam it, everything turned out perfectly and we made it to the church. The ceremony went off without a hitch and the couple emerged happy as clams.

The church itself was amazing. It's been standing for centuries and centuries. The entire time we were in France, I was constantly amazed at the thought that even some of the "newer" buildings we saw are still older than the oldest buildings we have here in the US. 

The reception was held at Château de Bussy-Rabutin in . Looking down the hill from the church, you could see the chateau in the distance. 

We made our way to the chateau and were greeted by the couple.

The reception started with a cocktail hour and allowed us some time to go exploring. the grounds were incredible.

We ran into the couple taking pictures...

...and decided it was a great place to take a picture:

We also found a hedge maze and made our way to the center.

The bottom left is the entrance, top right is a view from inside and the others are close-up of the maze walls.
After that, we made our way back to the main reception area for group pictures and the bouquet toss.

For some reason, this picture is one of my absolute favorites from the trip:

I think it's because the only thing that's relatively in focus in the shot is the expression on her face and she just looks so happy.
After that we made our way inside for dinner. My intent was to get a shot of each course, but I only managed to get one of the first course and the desserts. Don't these look yummy?!

Apologies for the lack of focus....I may or may not have had a few glasses of wine by this point.
Let me tell you, the French know how to throw a party! The cocktail hour started around 6 PM and we weren't served the last course until around 1:15 AM (that's over 7 hours!). Then, we proceeded to dance literally until the sun came up. 

We returned to the gîte and those of us who had to catch an early train stayed up while those of us who had a later one managed to catch a few Z's before we headed into Paris.

Before we left, we took one las tour round the property and visited these little guys.

They were very friendly. Maybe it was because of the leftover carrots we brought them. Maybe they were just easygoing. Either way, it was one last memory of the countryside to add to the mix before we left.

Have you been to anywhere out of the mainstream? Where did you go? What did you see?
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Monday, August 20, 2012

Instagram Weekend

Hello! Happy Monday! Ha.....

I've been MIA for the last few days, I know. I am SWAMPED at work and have been going non stop, and then like I told you last week, I was in San Antonio all weekend :)

So tonight, I figure I'll share my weekend with you via Instagram. I'm sure most everyone knows what Instagram is, but in case you don't it's a spiffy little app for iPhone and Android that lets you snap pictures and apply nifty filters to give them different looks. You can also upload photo's you've already taken them and edit those as well.

Ok, ready? Go!

Downtown San Antonio driving in
Glass of wine for my mom and I from our first winery tour together
Saturday breakfast tacos. Yum!
Saturday afternoon cocktails to celebrate the husband's cousin's graduation from USAF basic training
Who doesn't love a mojito?
The best friend's favorite bubbly water. It makes a great skinny pina colada!
My parents' chihuahua, Buddy. He's so cute, isn't he?
MEATFEST!!!!! That's steak, brats, chicken drumsticks and ribs plus baked potatoes and corn all cooked on my dad's smoker that he built all himself. Makes me hungry just looking at it...
Heading home. Ho Ho Ho Express. Really?
So, that pretty much sums it up. How was your weekend? Pin It Now!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pet Peeve, Schmet Schmeeve

Happy Hump Day! The weekend is almost close enough to touch!

It's time for another round of Pet Peeve, Schmet Schmeeve. You know the drill: take a second to think about something not so great that's happened (or happening), and rant about it for a moment. Then, take another second to stop and think about all of the things that are going quite well in your life :)

Here goes!

Pet Peeve
Originally, I didn't have anything to say here today other than it's Wednesday and not Friday, and I really wish it were Friday because of my weekend plans (see Schmet Schmeeve)

But then, I came home and was greeted by the husband telling me about the new "pet" he found, Sallie (and yes, he specified "-ie", not "-y"). WARNING (and spoiler alert): If you don't like spiders, close your eyes and scroll down to the bottom!

Sallie Jo the Texas "Woof" Spider
That's right. Sallie is a spider. A wolf spider, specifically. And she's got her babies with her. *Shiver*

See all those bumps on her rump? Those are teeny tiny baby spiders.
The husband found her outside at the threshold of the door that leads from our garage to the inside of our house and caught her with a little fish net and put her in the terrarium. He's going to set her free in a field a mile or so away from the house tomorrow.

While these guys get pretty big, they're relatively harmless. They're actually good to have around because they eat other poisonous spiders (black widow, brown recluse, etc.) No offense Sallie, but I'm not very keen on having you and your many many babies hanging around...

Repeat: *Shiver*

Schmet Schmeeve
1. As of tomorrow, my best friend is back from her entire summer spent travelling :)
2. The husband and I get to spend the weekend in San Antonio (where I grew up and where my parents live)
3. Said best friend in #1 will also be visiting her family in San Antonio, so we get to hang out and drink margaritas and enjoy the dwindling Texas summer :-D
4. I was featured for my first time ever at Elizabeth & Co's Be Inspired Features and Link Party! I'm so super excited and humbled about that :) :)
5. On a tangent from #4: I reached 2600 page views today!

I know some of you get those kinds of number daily, but that's more traffic than I ever imagined my little corner of the blogosphere would ever see, so thank you!

What are your Pet Peeve/Schmet Scmeeves this week?

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Unfinished Vignette

Man, I am tired. Exhausted, spent, pooped, just plain ol' worn out.

What is it about Tuesdays? I swear they're worse than Mondays. Or maybe it's Mondays that makes Tuesdays so draining.

Anywho...I need your help.

I painted and sanded this star this weekend...

...and now I don't know what to do with it.

I was thinking about putting it on this tabletop,

but I don't know exactly how to arrange it.

I tried it by itself (FYI: I don't really like it with the globe from the picture above):

but it seems like something is missing riiiiiiiiight there:

So I tried it along with this little lighthouse:

I wanted to try to tie in the anchor that's hanging above it.

And then I tried it with the lighthouse by itself

Sorry for the blurries
But I really just can't decide.


What do you think? Should I leave it the original way, have the star by itself, with the lighthouse or put the lighthouse by itself?

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