Houston Local: Downtown Houston Graffiti Art (Part I)

For months now we’ve planned to visit Downtown Houston to visit the graffiti art within the city but for some reason something always comes up and we end up postponing our plans for another day. In a way a there’s a slight urgency to see these outdoor artwork  because some of them aren’t permanently there and what I mean by that is sometimes artists change their work and it gets replaced by something else so while they’re there its best to take advantage of it.

Today, my husband woke up and suggested to randomly visit downtown so we could finally see some of Houston’s graffiti art work. We figured since we’re moving to Indiana in a few months, now would be a best time to explore Houston so we headed to Halal Guys first for lunch since we’ve been craving it for days now and the location we wanted to go to was approximately 7 minutes away from it so that worked out perfectly fine.

Here are some photos that we took during our visit. For those who are interested to see these murals here’s an address to put in your GPS:

1503 Chartres St., Houston, Texas 77003

I just wish there was someone who could tell us the name of these pieces. Anyone knowledgeable? Shoot me an email or comment down below. I’d love to recognize the artists and their artwork. Thanks!

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Oh, btw today is the First Day of Spring. How apt that our day turned out to be full of life and full of colors, just like spring. Happy First Day of Spring, everyone!

~Rhea

Houston Local: BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

It always amuses me when people say “I’m bored”; I feel like theres so many things to do in this life that even our time on this earth would not be enough. It might be just a matter of perspective and I’m trying to raise Cassie to see things the way Marco and I see it. As much as my little family and I would like to travel and go on a lot of adventures I truly believe that not all adventures entail money (well, maybe gas money), that’s when being resourceful kicks in.

Unconsciously, I’ve been on a mission to prove my point, locally this community has a lot of things to offer and its a matter of learning how to take advantage of it. We’ve visited the Houston zoo for free but you’d have to know that they do that mostly on the first Tuesday of each month, Thursdays are usually free admission days for museums especially the Children’s museum where I’d like to take Cassie soon and then there’s one and a million parks here in Houston and the near outskirts that are waiting to be explored.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir was a gem that we discovered 17 minutes away from home. It’s a local Hindu temple that opens their doors to visitors even those of different religion and their architectural construct does not fall short from what India is known for. I could go on and on about our visit to the temple but I’ll let the pictures speak for itself.

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The first photo we took as soon as we entered the premises, I had to tell him to stop acting all goofy since we were in a temple and all

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I though that the temple would be a good place to take pictures of Cassie but she fell asleep right before entering the gates

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Today’s #OOTD

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The fountains opposite side from where we entered

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Steps going up to the Mandir (temple), no photographs and no shoes allowed beyond this point

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Had to check out the intricate details up close, that college class I took on India really taught me to appreciate not only their architecture but everything else that’s embedded in their culture

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Coming out of the mandir. The walls, the ceilings, the floor and everything else was breathtaking, if only we cold’ve taken pictures inside.

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It does make a beautiful background thus acquiring that unofficial nickname of “Houston’s mini Taj Mahal”

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…he just had to pose that way. Ugh

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The temple vicinity is very friendly to visitors, they have signs and guides all over the place

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Family photo by the structure across the mandir, thanks to a friendly temple-goer who randomly offered to take our picture

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Color pop against the plain white details. Can’t get enough of these carvings.

I was a bit disappointed that Cassie slept the entire time because I wanted her to explore the grounds and run around to check out the fountains but on the other hand I’m glad she slept so Marco and I could appreciate the place without any crazy distractions, haha. We can always bring Cassie  back here next time. If you’re a Houston local, this place is a must-see but before you come visit please check their website and familiarize with their rules as this is a sacred place to them and a place of worship. Before you leave the area, please visit their gift shop, make a donation or try their daily vegetarian lunch buffet (we have yet to do that). Oh yeah, I hear that they light up the temple at night and it looks magical, you should definitely drive by to check it out.

Well, there you go…that’s another thing to do here in Houston. I don’t think this place will ever bore me. Enjoy!

~Rhea

Destination: Big Bear Lake, California

January 2-4, 2017

Seeing snow while spending the holidays in California was like the cherry on top, the Mendezonas planned a skiing/snowboarding trip to Big Bear but I was more excited that Cassie was going to have her first snow experience. I was already assuming that she would fall in love with snow so quickly given the fact that she has a current obsession with things cold (ice, A/C, freezer, ref…and the list goes on) also explaining one of her all-time favorite expressions “told told” (cold cold).

There were 14 Mendezonas and half of us haven’t encountered snow long enough or don’t live in snow. Period. It’s a good thing the L.A-Mendezonas had enough snow gear for the rest of the Mendezona boys while Mami made sure the ones who didn’t have snow gear had one especially the babies. We even visited the snow gear outlet store a few days before the road trip. Wow, I didn’t think staying warm and comfortable at the same time would be a lot of serious work . I guess its different when you take solo skiing trips, I remembered my first trip to Colorado a few years back and packing wasn’t this crazy but when you prepare for a family of 14—it is a PRODUCTION. Imagine all the snow boots, all the thick jackets, all the thermals, all the mittens, all the gloves, all the snow goggles not even counting the snowboards and the ski equipment, yes, it was definitely a production.

Day 1

Our drive there has got to be one of the least boring drives I’ve taken in my life, not because Cassie was screaming until almost half way through the drive but because the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. For some reason snow makes things look so magical.

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3 cars and 2 hours later the Mendezonas made it to their Air bnb cabin in Big Bear and the boys were in charge of most of the hard labor of carrying the luggages up the stairs. (photo below for reference, hahaha).

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The kitchen and dining area. Excuse our luggage.

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The living room by the fireplace

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Bedroom on the 1st floor

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Upstairs bathroom had one of Cassie’s favorite animals—Owl.

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The loft upstairs aka the boys area

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The second floor’s very own cozy nook

Once we kinda got settled in and we semi-explored the house, we headed out for late lunch at this local place that was called Mountain Munchies. It might have presented itself like a hole-in-the wall but service was excellent in the form of our server being really patient with us.

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What I got, chicken Fried Steak. It was meh.

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Our view from outside the diner.

After late lunch, we headed out to a play area where the kids could play with snow but Cassie was fast asleep so I decided not to wake her up so we decided to stay inside the car to keep warm. The remainder of the day was spent on cooking, running errands, settling down and family bonding time over random movies by the fire place. Oh,  and marshmallows by the fire place.

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This one is out cold and missed playing with snow.

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What dinner preparations looked like

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These two cousins bonding over giant marshmallows

Day 2

Of course we tried to follow our planned schedule to leave by 9am for our snow activities and of course we failed miserably. Did I mention there were 14 of us and 2 bathrooms? One thing I’ve learned from situations like these is the “Early bird gets to bathe in hot water”, I’m telling you icy baths are no fun especially when they’re least expected.

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Good Morning!

Our view outside the cabin.

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The girls and one little pikachu photo bomber, my godson Teo. Haha

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She just wanted me to put her down so she could play with snow

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“let go of my hand mommy”

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Chilling (literally) by the side snow with these cuties while waiting for everyone to head down

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Photo op before heading out to the slopes

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Two hours and thirty minutes after our planned time we made it there.

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We parked our snowboards. What a stash, haha.

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And even then we still took long in buying our lift tickets and renting out snowboard boots and what not

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This one wasted no time and started exploring

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Ordering lunch to this view

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Cassie wanted to see the view for herself

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The scenery from up the slopes

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Cassie: It’s about time daddy

Marco, finally came down after a few rounds of snowboarding and he decided to play with the kids in the snow

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Me and Pilica with the babies

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Mami and Mikel had to make a miniature snowman to stop Teo from crying, he loved it but wouldn’t take a picture with it. (Yes, that’s beans and mac and cheese. )

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Although someone gladly posed next to the itty bitty snowman. Haha, Hi Dieg.

A short recap of today’s events, most went snowboarding, some went skiing, one got sprained and mami and I stayed with the kids. The highlight of my day was seeing Cassie go crazy over snow, she loved it so much that she’d get mad at me for taking her back to our waiting area. In fact she loved it so much she was willing to go with anyone who could take her back to the play area even if it wasn’t mommy.

Day 3

Everyone else had the rest of the morning to do more snow activities but Marco, Javi, Mami, Pilica, Anya, Cassie and I had to go down first since Marco had to fly to Houston earlier a day before me and Cassie for an interview.

~Rhea

Destination: Palm Springs, California

December 25, 2016 (Christmas Day )

Found myself on the road on Christmas Day for the very first time in my 30 years of existence. Christmas day was always spent at home and it always seemed like a perfect day to take breather from all of the Christmas hustle and bustle, it was just family tradition for both sides but this year we decided to break the norm and do something different. We accepted a complimentary stay at Palm Springs, the younger Mendezonas (and when I say younger I mean the unmarried ones— Javi, Dino, Pilica, Mikel and Anya) had to leave in the wee hours of the morning to check in, I guess they’re kinda staying there for two nights. The rest of us including abu had a convoy to Palm Springs as soon as we were all ready.

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Since we were all hungry, Elmer’s was our first food stop. There was a 30-40 minute wait so we ended up playing with the kids up front.

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Me and My mini-me in our coats in Palm Springs. Yes, it was kinda cool.

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Our family on Christmas Day, waiting for our food to be served.

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Teo’s pretty excited about the shake.

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And this little one was just on the floor in her Christmas suit, picking up crayons, without a care in the world.

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Cassie’s pancake. is this a bear or a mouse?

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My cutie patootie

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Merry Christmas from my family to yours. 😀 Checking in the hotel in awhile.

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Once we were all settled in mami, Pilica, Anya and I left to go buy bathing suits since we all forgot to bring ours. We completely forgot that it was Christmas Day and most of the stores were closed, we found ourselves in Walgreens buying groceries and drink for our over night stay. After dinner we had family game time—Charades and Munchkin.

December 26, 2016

Checked out just in time for lunch, we ended up eating in Sammy G’s Tuscan Grill. The name personally didn’t sound so inviting but it supposedly had good ratings and everyone at that point just wanted to settle down.

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It was Christmas Candyland at the reception area.

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The inside of the restaurant just felt warm and inviting, very apt for Christmas and they were playing classic Christmas songs as well.

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The family enjoying our appetizer—Calamari (except for little Cassie I guess, look at that face, haha)

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Loved the intricate wood carving on the pillars within the restaurant

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Cassie, Ninong Dingz and Baba posing with the snowman

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Explored the strip after lunch

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These palm trees are intriguing

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The girls (missing Pauline, Abu and yaya Diday)

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Twinning with this one for the millionth time

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If you find yourself in Palm Springs, Great Shakes is a MUST visit and a big stress on the “must. It’s said to have one of the best shakes in the whole world

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And you’ll see a bunch of this around the store just validating that claim. You can even check yelp or google this place, ratings are excellent.

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Here’s my cranky baby…

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Here’s my no-longer cranky baby thanks to Great Shakes’ shakes. Haha. I’m telling you they don’t disappoint

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And lastly a family photo of us three before we leave this place. Of course we took it at a random parking lot but its okay, at least you still see some palm trees in the picture. Haha.

Again, Merry Christmas one and all.

~Rhea

For the love of PUMPKINS.

Happy babies make happy mothers and this trip literally just warmed my heart seeing my baby excited, amused and amazed all at the same time. I’m pretty sure she didn’t understand what “pumpkins” were but she could see there were orange things in different shades and different sizes and there were tons of them. She literally squiggled her way out of my grasp to get down. And just like that she went from one pumpkin to another, “pumpkin-hopping” if you want to call it that.

Ann and I found this Groupon for a trip to the pumpkin patch, for regular adults with no kids you’d probably say it was alright but for parents especially those with toddlers, this was more than “alright”. Little kids went crazy all over this place called Halter Inc. Pumpkin Patch. They had that and the petting zoo, and some mazes, a bunch of kids activities, bits of snacks they were selling to the kids and they even had a spooky trail. Overall I think Ann and I were just happy we got to take Cassie and Olivia to their first visit to the pumpkin patch and of course take a gazillion photos of them. Thank God for #momfriends, I honestly believe mothers in general are in dire need of that friend who’s also a mother, someone you can talk to about your kid 24/7 and won’t think that you’re slightly obsessed with your child (which I probably am, haha). This will suck a bit of Marco and I end up moving to a different state which reminds me, a shout out to our husbands Marco and Charles. The were every bit of a stage dad as we were stage moms and they were participating in every photo and not complaining. Thank you for giving in to our every whims and fascinations concerning the kids and making them come to life. You are deeply appreciated.

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Cassie demanded that I put her down.

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Fall is definitely in the air in this pumpkin patch.

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Surrounded by pumpkins—big and small.

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She had fun drumming on the pumpkins

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Prepping for our “Mommy and Cassie” photo, she didn’t want to stay put.

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“Daddy and Cassie” picture, not exactly what she had in mind.

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The obligatory family photo, She just wanted us to put her down already.

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CASSIE’S PUMPKIN PATCH OOTD #1

(BEANIE: Pumpkin Beanie from Olivia; Gymboree/ ROMPER: Fall Bubble Romper; Handmaid Ends/ SOCKS: gray knee high socks; Amazon/ MOCCASINS: Camel moccasins; Minetonka)

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Decisions, decisions, decisions. Cassie and Olivia trying to figure out which pumpkins to take home.

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Stage Moms.

Olivia and Cassie twinning in their matching pumpkin beanie.

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These babies got hot and took off their beanies.

After the pumpkin patch, we decided to call it a day. We didn’t stay for the animal petting zoo and although we wanted to ride their train, the “conductor” was nowhere to be found so we left. We bought a medium sized pumpkin with the tickets we got from the Groupon deal and with that Daddy carved his first pumpkin ever.


A few days after, we visited a local pumpkin patch with my mom, Marco and some of my siblings just because Cassie had so much fun with the previous one. The St. Catherine of Sienna pumpkin patch had a minimal selection compared to Halter Inc just because I feel like all the good pumpkins were purchased already.

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Happy Harvest y’all! A fall photo with my little baby.

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Marco says she looks like a little pilgrim. I’d have to agree. Haha

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A little possessive are we? Haha. My mom bought her a little pumpkin to keep.

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Cassie in her pumpkin carriage.

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Mommy, Cassie and Daddy

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Tita Jelly, Grandmy and Tita Nikki—Cassie’s very own cheering squad.

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Falling in love with fall colors—Shades of Red, Rust, Mustard, Orange, Maroon.

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CASSIE’S PUMPKIN PATCH OOTD #2

(BONNET:Reversible fall bonnet; Lovely Snap Dragon/ ROMPER: Maroon Boho Romper; Reddies Craft/ SOCKS: mustard knee high socks; Amazon/ MOCCASINS: Camel moccasins; Minetonka)

~Rhea