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

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Destination: Austin, Texas

This has got to be one of the most random, most unplanned road trips I’ve ever taken in my entire life. But sometimes its those random adventures that make the journey worth while especially when its with your family, now if you don’t enjoy being around your family then what I just said doesn’t count. Oh, and tell me why my brother Paulo finally gets to take off from work only to find out that our plans were up in the air, talk about bad timing. For years now we’ve been nagging him to come with us coz he never makes it to our family outings and the one time he decides to come, we didn’t have anything planned, well we did but the weather kinda messed that up.

So here was our original plan (the one we picked out of a million) —Barton Springs and Hamilton Pool in Austin and then camping in one of the State Parks. And just like the weather forecast stated, it rained like crazy washing away our one and only feasible plan and so we had to google what to do on the spot as we were already in Austin.

First stop, Kerlin BBQ.

So originally we weren’t supposed to eat in Kerlin but that other Bbq place we were planning to go to ran out of meat. I’m glad we ended up eating here though, yes it may be a food truck and it wasn’t really an ideal set up to be eating outdoors especially with the rain and the mud puddles but their BBQ was so tasty and their prices were decent, not to mention they had good service. That lady who helped us (possibly the owner) made sure we got our bang for the buck and we did.

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M.E.A.T

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Loved loved loved the cream corn

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Did someone say local beer?

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The outdoor set up

Next stop, Cathedral of Junk.

Address to Google: 4422 Lareina Drive, Austin, TX

After years of working on this piece, Vince, the artist and the owner was finally given a permit for Cathedral of Junk to stay for good as an Austin landmark. This place is free of admission but like any struggling artist donations are greatly appreciated to fund the maintenance of this Art Museum and other art pieces in the works. For groups a suggested amount of $10 is good enough but if you want to donate more then all the better. Make sure to call 512-299-7413 before heading there since the place is by appointment only.

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Cathedral of Junk

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Ramas- Mendezonas outside the Cathedral of Junk.

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Bits and bobs everywhere, its hard not to stare at the walls

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Okayyyy, random Barbie parts are kinda creepy

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How creepy…trolls randomly strapped in the ceiling

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The view of the cathedral from the back

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Vince, the artist.

Third stop, Hope Outdoor Gallery.

Address to Google: 1101 Baylor Street, Austin, TX

Austin’s community or gallery for graffiti art. If you want artsy photos with cool backgrounds like those you see on IG (rolls eyeballs, haha) then you’re definitely in the right place, only problem during the time we visited Hope Outdoor Gallery was it was raining and the place was clearly muddy and slippery. I didn’t risk taking Cassie further up for the fear of slipping, the rest of my siblings climbed all the way up though. Marco and I will definitely be back to explore this place some more when Mr. Sun is out.

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Last stop, Texas State Capitol.

Address to Google: 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX

Located in Downtown Austin, this was the only place we could think of to cap our random Austin trip on a rainy day. At that point we weren’t too keen nor were we interested in reading or learning about anything that involved Texas’ political history. We did enjoy touring the capitol and spotting Sam Houston’s portrait (since both my sisters go to Sam Houston State University). Btw, admission is free although parking wasn’t, I think we paid $10 for parking.

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And there you have it, a recap of our random day trip to Austin.

~Rhea

Destination: Harlingen, Texas

Marco was scheduled for another interview here in Texas but this time it was in Harlingen so we took a road trip close to the border of Mexico more for business than pleasure. It’ s days like these when I get to take advantage of the perks working PRN (as needed) at the hospital. I love how I can just pick my schedule and take off from work without any hassles or complications when need be. It took us roughly 4 hours and 30 minutes to get there and the first thing we did was google a good place to eat. We ended up having lunch at Brass Wheel Restaurant.

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Marine Memorial

Visited this mini museum mainly for the Iwo Jima Memorial statue. The wind was acting up so we didn’t even stay long and I didn’t even bother visiting the gift shop like I normally would.

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Iwo Jima Memorial up closeimg_9599_zpsimpsxovc

Because he feels the need to do the “Lion King” pose at every historical landmark we go to.img_9611_zpslbwedbei

 Checked in at Courtyard by Marriott

It had a modern minimalistic feel to it.

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The hotel’s poolside was pretty decent and since we had nothing else better to do, we decided to take Cassie for a swim.

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She acts like she runs the place, waiting for daddy to get ready.

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So apparently people who viewed my snaps thought we were crazy for swimming that day since it was rather breezy, the water was warm and we didn’t really stay long so I promise you Cassie was fine.

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Famished after her swim so she grabbed her snack, sat on the sofa and started munching on her puffs like a boss

That night Cassie and I stayed in and ate left overs while Marco had an informal dinner with the rest of the interviewees for the residency program.

The next day, Marco rode a shuttle and left early for the hospital, Cassie and I packed our stuff, loaded up and went window shopping after we had that cockroach incident. I am not even going to expound on what happened since I am positive that it wasn’t even the hotel’s fault but lets just say I had to get over my fear of roaches so I could kill one. I felt like if I didn’t, it would have called the rest of its friends and Cassie and I would have a cockroach frenzy.

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Just roamed around town while Marco was doing his interview, its a good thing I found the mall right when he finished. He gave me a call just when I walked in a Forever 21 and it looked like 6x this photo. It felt like a Forever 21 warehouse and I was just glad he called before I could do any credit card damage that  I would regret in the future. Everything was on sale!!!!

Met up with one of Marco’s friends from med school that was currently doing residency over there, they had a quick catch up before we drove back to Houston. On our way home we got stopped at an immigration checkpoint. Because the city was located in the border  line of Mexico, immigration was taking precautionary measures that Marco was unaware of and I totally forgot about. He forgot to bring his green card and it took them a while to verify his identity with his drivers license. I’m just glad nothing crazy resulted from our inefficiencies. We got home safe, extremely exhausted but safe.

~Rhea

Of Texas and Teepees

This fascination of wanting to sleep in a teepee has been around for awhile especially since  it first came out on Groupon a few months back. The only thing with these deals is that they have a time period and even at a steal I didn’t want to purchase the Groupon until I could find someone to come with me, Marco and Cassie. The deal ended and I wasn’t able to convince my family or even friends to go, a constant struggle for people who live in the US—finding a “common” vacation schedule for everyone in the party even if it’s just a day, besides the Groupon was date specific so we couldn’t just randomly purchase it and use it anytime in the future.

A few months later, we finally found a family who wanted to make the trip with us—Charles, Ann and Olivia, it was like a family date! We were just going to pick a date when everyone was free and still push through without the Groupon. Well what do you know, as soon as I got a “go” signal from the Garcias to book for specific date they were free, Groupon brought back the deal and we ended up making the reservations at a discounted rate. God’s on our side, yep..this trip was meant to happen.

Reservation on the Guadalupe is one of Best Texas Travel ‘s unique vacation properties and it literally did not disappoint. I mean really people visit the place because they want to try and sleep in some place “different”, or probably because it “looks cool” vacationing in a teepee or whatever reason they may have. And I’m not going to lie, I looked at the photos before booking, it looked amazing and I was aesthetically drawn to the place. This is one time where aesthetics surpassed comfort and I didn’t mind but you know what, the place was comfortable anyway and I felt at home. It kinda gave me that “province-feel”, at night it was pitch black and early morning it was calm and serene, it literally felt like I woke up in my Daddy Pakong’s bukid.

I can go into detail about their amenities but I’ll let you check out the links so you could see for yourself. The place sleeps 6; it has 3 queen beds and a kitchenette with pots, pans, stove, grill and all utensils to use during your stay. Parking is limited to two per teepee but arrangements can easily be made with management. The best part is checking in and checking out— everything was done electronically, they send you a link to their app and you have to download it, that app will contain all the instructions, map, directions, digital codes for access to the teepee, the rest room and the tree house. (YES, digital meaning no KEYS!).

BOTTOM LINE is this place was an amazing breather for all of us and it DEFINITELY was worth the drive. ( It was a 3-hour drive from Missouri City, TX where we live, just in case you were wondering). I can keep going but I’ll let the photos speak for itself.

Day 1

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Here’s a picture of our teepee, Teepee #8, Rising Moon, with no filter.

We arrived an hour early before check in time so we decided to check out the common area first since we already had the codes for treehouse anyway. I know it has its cons but it felt pretty good not having to go through a front desk to check in.

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What’s across—other teepees and the treehouse, a common area for the guests.

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There’s an indoor dining area, as well as outdoors but it was too hot to stay outside.

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And a very comfortable living/ game area. I forgot to take pictures of the pingpong table downstairs.

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Similar outfits again. Mommy bought fringe moccasins to match Cassie’s.

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Daddy’s little love.

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The view of the area from the tree house.

Finally got to check our place out at 3pm, 30 minutes before the actual check in time and this little baby approves. We settled down while waiting for the Garcias to get there.

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When the Garcias arrived, of course we checked out the tree house and took our fill of outfit photos. Thank God for stage moms who can relate. Haha.

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We then checked out their direct access to the river, how convenient for tubing season.

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Found an old wooden bench swing by the river

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The Ramas-Mendezonas

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The Almacen-Garcias

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We spent the rest of the afternoon outdoors, the mommies played with the babies while the daddies took care of dinner, grilling.

By the time dinner was ready, it was dark so we headed up to the tree house instead of eating outside to avoid the bugs and enjoy dinner indoors in the comforts of “civilization” a.k.a A/C. haha.

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Thanks for dinner boys, you guys are the best.

Day 2

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Good Morning, New Braunfels. It was a cool, misty morning, like waking up in the bukid.

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Baby Shennanigans

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My little boho baby and her little boho outfit. Her little feather head dress c/o mommy of course. #PipandTumbleweed

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One last family picture with our teepee before leaving.

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Yay for camera timers and making group photos possible.

Look at Cassie and Olivia having a private conversation. Awww…

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The Garcias knew of a perfect place to have lunch before heading back to Houston but first, the outlet mall at San Marcos. It was hard to resist especially since it was on our way home.

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It was hard not to take a stroll after lunch especially when you find yourself in old Luling, Texas. Thank you for the lunch treat Garcias! It was a first for us to have barbecue at City Market and you’re right, they aren’t pricey and are one of the best.

This overnight trip was definitely a much needed R&R for all of us. Texas, you continue to surprise me with your hidden vineyards and unheard of teepees. Which part of Texas are we off to next? Can’t wait for my next family adventure.

~Rhea

 

 

 

Local Vineyards, Quiet Birthdays

Local vineyards— who would have thought decent ones existed here in Texas especially since we’re known to have shady weather forecasts especially in our area, imagine experiencing all four seasons in one day. I know there are hundreds here in the US but for some reason when you say “US vineyards”, the first thing that comes to my mind is Napa Valley. I know its very small-town of me to think that way but its the truth.

And I’m not going to lie by saying that I did consider making a trip to Napa Valley, California for this year’s birthday trip (Haha, Marco didn’t even know) but as parents we do have to prioritize our children (especially since Cassie is celebrating her 1st birthday next month) so we came to a compromise by going to a vineyard that’s apparently a 45-minute drive from where we live. Wow, not bad at all.

The expectations weren’t high just because Texas isn’t really known for its wine but I’d have to say Marco and I were both impressed with Haak Winery and Vineyards. I’m glad Groupon brought back its $21 Haak Winery promo, wine tasting, vineyard tour and $20 deli credit for two people, it was definitely worth it and more.

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Driving to the vineyard was no trouble at all. From where we live, we literally just drove down highway 6 going to the Galveston area and turned right and just like that we reached our destination.

We called them in advance to ask if we could bring Cassie and they said they take pride in making their place family friendly and baby-friendly so we were able to take our stroller in and yes, they did have ramps.

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Once you walk in, you’ll find yourself in the deli/ souvenir area and at the very end of the room is the reception/ receiving desk.

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Vineyards wouldn’t be vineyards if they didn’t have any of these wine barrels-turned-to-deli-tables.

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This is what it looked like once you walked out of that room going towards the cellar and the actual vineyard.

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Daddy and Cassie posing right before our tour guide took us down to their cellar.

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Cream of the crop, all locked down in a special area.

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Spot the patron saint of the winery, they say you have to rub his tummy for good luck.

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Barrels and barrels of the good stuff.

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Starting them young…haha, don’t worry Cassie stuck to her milk when we did the wine tasting.

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These things have wine that can fill up hundreds if not thousands of wine bottles

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More wine machinery behind the scenes.

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The part that we were all waiting for—wine tasting.

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 We get to try 5 different ones including the Madeira that they’re known for.

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My mister insisted he take a picture of me.

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I thought he’d wear his usual shorts, shirt and sneakers but he tidied up, not bad Mr. Mendezona.

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Parenting 101. Wine tasting.

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Cassie tried to entertain herself. Awww good job baby!

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Family picture on our family date.

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We headed out again after the wine tasting to explore the vineyard by ourselves and take some pictures.

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A beautiful day for a visit to the vineyard, Thank you Lord for clear skies.

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I’m glad  that this little one is having so much fun as well.

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Stage mom in action.

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My little angel soaking up Mr. Sun.

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Daddy about to swing Cassie around.

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Mandatory vineyard solo 😀

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Who says you can’t take babies to a vineyard and have fun? I don’t know about y’all but this bunch did.

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Here’s my Cassie’s OOTD for our trip to the vineyard. She’s growing up too fast…

~Rhea