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

Rodeo Houston 2017

For an unplanned trip to the rodeo, I think we did pretty okay. We really didn’t have a specific day to go nor were we picky with the performing artist, I just wanted Marco and Cassie to experience the rodeo as it was their first time to go. We picked Wednesday because it had the cheapest tickets for the concert and the artist performing that day was Thomas Rhett, a well known country singer. Of course this was the first time we were hearing about him but that’s because Marco and I don’t usually listen to country music.

We started the day with a bunch of rodeo fails :

#1 We didn’t leave early enough. We could have made it an entire day affair but we didn’t take that into consideration. So for future references think of it as a day at Disney or Six Flags, there literally is a lot to do over there.

#2 And again, since we didn’t leave early enough we caught the rodeo traffic and it took us a good hour to look for parking

#3 We forgot to withdraw money, we only figured that out when we were trying to park and they had signs saying they only take cash. FYI, parking is hard during rodeo season if you’re not there early. Parking costs range from $20-$50, maybe even $60. We were lucky enough to find more in the yellow lot for $20.

#4 We forgot to bring our umbrella stroller and we ended up lugging our big jogger stroller around.

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We knew it was going to be impossible for us to take a decent family picture once we get rolling with the rodeo activities so we opted to do it as soon as we entered the vicinity

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The biggest boot in town

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She’s at this stage where she completely recognizes the animals and masters the sounds they make so you can only imagine how delighted she was to be surrounded by them. We probably would have spent more time at the petting area if only she wasn’t recovering from the flu and if we had more time before the concert.

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It was pure chaos buying food at the rodeo, with a child and a handful of food it was impossible for us to take photos of  what we ate. (Volcano Nachos, Giant Pizza–one slice was actually 2 regular ones, Cheeseburger and Funnel Cake)

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One out of the two photos I took from the Rodeo festivities. Marco and I were so into it that we forgot to take pictures. Our favorite was the Kids Mutton Bustin’ event where the kid who could stay on the back of the mutton, the longest wins.

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….We finally got introduced to Thomas Rhett and we enjoyed his songs more than we expected. I think I like country music as long as its not too hard core. Haha. This photo right here was when he asked everyone to take out their phones and wave it in the air, it was a pretty cool sight, this photo does not do justice.

Cassie on the other hand didn’t really act up considering that this was her first ever concert. She tried to out-scream the music during the concert and couldn’t figure out why people couldn’t hear her, it was the funniest thing ever. She was scared a few times when they would dim the lights but generally she was a sport and would clap her hands with everyone else after every song.

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Me and my sister after the concert. They kinda allowed us to crash their monthsary date to the point where we sat next to them during the concert.

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Our last photos of the night.

It is exhausting to go to the rodeo with a baby but I’m glad that Cassie had a great time. It was challenging for me and Marco but the day turned out great and most importantly we were safe. To those who didn’t hear, there was a shooting scare that day so after the concert we were asked to stay in the stadium premises until they cleared things out in the grounds. They didn’t really mention anything about “shooting or gunning” but it was on the news so people were texting us, asking if we were okay and that’s how we knew. After that, Marco and I decided to call it a day and we headed home.

~Rhea

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

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