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

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: Little Rock, Arkansas

The search for a possible residency program for Marco continues and I honestly shouldn’t call it search since we don’t really have the final say where he ends up in but he ended up getting an interview in Little Rock, Arkansas and since it’s a city and state that I’ve never been to and the drive from Houston wasn’t too long of a drive, Cassie and I tagged along.

When I was single and younger, I made a bucket list to visit all 50 states before I turned 30 and needless to say I failed doing that. I’m not saying that I’ve given up on that list, I guess my priorities just changed throughout the years and it wasn’t like I wasn’t in a long distance relationship for 7 years ( up to this day, I still don’t know how Marco and I did that) so our savings went to our wedding sinking fund, travel costs and what not so I’ve only managed to go to a bunch of them (not even half).

Ever since Cassie was born, we’ve been blessed to have traveled to a few more places for family visits, reunions and Marco’s interviews and so far she’s been to 7 states (including this) and 1 international destination. Not bad for a year old who won’t even remember half the places we’ve been to (but I guess thats why mommy takes a billion and one photos all the time, right). The only wonderful thing about not having ticked of that particular thing on my bucket list is that I have the rest of my lifetime to do that but I won’t be alone this time, I’ll have my little family with me and we’ll have our own adventures together.

To whoever is reading this, this isn’t a “travel blog”. Yes, it may just give you ideas on where to go, food places to go to, things to try out but it won’t consistently give you a breakdown or a rough estimate of how much to spend or a detailed review of a hotel or B&B ( well, it might, maybe when I’m ranting or raving about things) but so much of my posts are personal thoughts that I’ve allowed people to have access to. This is somewhat a personal online journal of mine, I’m sure I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, my entries are mostly there to keep track of memories. For a person who wanted to be on stage and memorize lines for a living, I suck in remembering details, dates and people. I’ve explained this to my husband before, I only remember things when they strike some kind of emotion within me, I remember little details based on what I felt at that particular situation and that’s how its always been. Okay….enough ranting, without further ado here are photos from our recent travel to Little Rock.

Old State House

Address to Google: 300 W Markham St, Little Rock, AR 72201

Anyone who’s read a few of my past entries know that I have a thing for historical landmarks and buildings so you would understand how delighted I was that we found this in the heart of the city. The weather seems perfect in the photos but it was actually quite chilly when we went to visit. That one I didn’t quite anticipate so its a good thing I wore leggings under my skirt or else I would’ve been sporting Marilyn Monroe the entire time.

This building with Greek Revival Architecture contains a hodge podge of Arkansas history.

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Cassie and Daddy being silly at the museum

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Reading up on some Arkansas history on the spot

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Old school Clinton Memorabilia

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We’re not big on politics so it was intriguing for us to have found out that the Clintons were originally from there. Of course they had an entire section dedicated to their rise to power and the role they played starting with local politics.

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We found out that they had a play place for kids after we toured the museum so Cassie got to spend a few minutes playing before closing time.

Star of India Restaurant

Address to Google: 301 N Shackleford Rd, Little Rock, AR 72211

As cheesy as their name sounds and as plain and boring as the outside of their restaurant looks, I swear to you they are, if not the best, one of the best Indian restaurants we’ve been to. I’m no foodie but I’d like to think my husband is because he does love to eat all sorts of food and Indian cuisine is one of his favorites and he was extremely impressed. The ambiance was pretty legit and as we were dining you could see a lot of customers were coming in and we were actually lucky to have walked in early because by the time we ended our meal the place was packed. What I’ve noticed is that these customers were regulars, locals who just kept coming back and you could tell because the owner or the host rather addressed almost every single one of them by their first names and he somewhat knew their life story.

I was impressed with their customer service and did I mention that the first thing they did when they saw us walk in with a baby was put us in an area convenient for us and Cassie, they placed a large manila paper under her high chair discreetly saying “babies are babies, let them make a mess—we are ready”, unlike those snooty restaurants who claim they’re open to families but they give you a disgruntled look when your baby starts making a mess while eating. Oh and before I forget, they’re only one $ sign…super duper affordable, besides with the kind of food that they served us and their impeccable customer service I was willing to pay more. We will definitely be back if we happen to be in town.

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Choctaw Route Station

Address to Google: 1010 E. Third St.reet Little Rock, AR 72201

Upon picking up Marco after his interview, this little brick red building caught my eye. I wish we had more time to explore it but since I was so intrigued and we couldn’t go in to check it out I had to look into it.

This old building used to be a railroad passenger depot of a train route that no longer exists. They restored the building and converted it to a library under the Clinton School of Public Service.

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Leo’s Greek Castle

Address to Google: 2925 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock, AR 72205

Now this is what I’d call a hole in the wall, the place seemed shady or maybe it seemed that way since it was night time and we weren’t familiar with the territory. The building structure was old, others might even consider it run down but inside it was quaint and clean, food was cheap and the gyros were to die for. Yep, the ratings don’t lie…so far every food hub we’ve tried here in Little Rock was a success.

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The Old Mill

Address to Google: 3800 Lakeshore Dr, North Little Rock, AR 72116

If you like classic movies then you shouldn’t have a hard time recognizing this place in the opening credits of Gone with the Wind. This picturesque mill really looks like it popped out of a fairy tale story book. I would have loved to explore the vast area surrounding the mill but we were on a tight schedule, I still can’t believe theres no admission cost to this landmark, it stands plainly in the middle of T.R Pugh Memorial Park. You won’t miss it.

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Our little bunny dozed off, she missed the whole thing.

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Big Dam Bridge

Address to Google: 7600 Rebsamen Park Rd, Little Rock, AR 72207

The first time I heard about this bridge I thought the name was a pun, I don’t know but I find it hilarious that they named it the BIG DAM BRIDGE. I’d have to say though the bridge was entirely true to its name. This bridge is said to be the longest bicycle and pedestrian in the entire US and no, we didn’t try to cross the bridge, we just took pictures. Haha.

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Junction Bridge at Little Rock River Market District

Address to Google: 200 Ottenheimer Plaza Little Rock, AR 72201

It’s not just another pedestrian bridge, this old railroad bridge is said to be 150 years old and it’s another convenient stop for tourists to take pictures since its located in between the River Market District and North Little Rock (must see areas in Little Rock from my understanding). Let’s not forget that there are also unique art installations/ pieces that are hard to miss.

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David’s Burgers

Address to Google: 200 Ottenheimer Plaza Little Rock, AR 72201

Who doesn’t love traditional American burgers? We went to the one within the River Market District coz it was the closest one at that time and we knew we had to try it out before heading home to Houston because consumer ratings varied from 4 stars to 4.5 online and true enough it didn’t disappoint, best part is the menu is $10 and under.

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And that wraps up our Little Rock trip. 😀

~Rhea

Honeymooning: Baguio

July 30 – 31, 2014

Day 1

The day after Kuya Oli and Hilda’s wedding, the family decided to leave for Baguio in the wee hours of the morning. Land tripping was no biggie for my siblings, they’re so used to long drives in and out of Houston, within Texas or even out of state. They might have enjoyed this more, considering the fact that when we drive out of Texas, they’re used to seeing flat lands, fields and the occasional deserts—the drive to Baguio was definitely more interesting. To us honeymooners, this trip was just another chance to travel and enjoy each other’s company as a newly married couple…as I said, we’re milking this “honeymoon thing”! Haha.

You know you’ve finally reached your destination when you see the famous Lion’s Head along Kennon Road. And here’s our obligatory photo with the lion.

Wood carvings they were selling at the side of the street during the “lion-head” stop over.

And we made it—Baguio Townhouse Condominium, nothing beats free accommodation.

The Ramas siblings (previous generation, haha)

Our home for the night.

After we settled in, we went to visit the little tiangges by Mines View Park for souvenirs and decided where to eat lunch.

Baguio souvenir shirts and a whole lot more…take your pick!

taking #ootd shots by the souvenir shops

My sister Pauline, going for the Kpop look. Haha, I’m kidding langga.

My sister Angelie and her “I’m-too-cool-to-care” look. Haha.

Foodstop #1: Zenz Bar and Restaurant

We googled this place up, they had nice reviews and they just happen to be close to the place we were staying at, so lunch at Zenz it was. Thank God the place was empty, it felt like it was entirely ours.

The kids love sisig so we went ahead and ordered one—very tasty, a must try!

One of their best sellers, Pork Sinigang with Strawberries (P190.00)

Chocolate Bibingcrisp — a must try especially the Strawberry one.

The patio outside Zenz, the view there is amazing!

Rhea and Marco with happy tummies. Scrumptious meal indeed, good choice sweetie!

The view from Mines View Park

Talked my siblings into taking the obligatory Igorot photo. It was no problem since all of them like to dress up in costumes just like their ate. Haha

Mmmm hmmm sweetie… True sentiments? Haha.

John and his B.I.L (Brother-in-law)…haha, he made that nickname for Marco at the entrance of Mines View Park. My dad and my aunts ended up going to the grocery, we brought the kiddies to Burnham Park for a bunch of recreational activities

Marco driving the girl who was “in pain”. I bet you just didn’t want to ride the bike.

Bicycle Maniacs stopped so I could take a photo of them

Sidecar-ing with my sweetie, it doesn’t get any sweeter than this 😀

These dorks were trying to race

Been ages since I last biked, I was going for “no-hands” but only managed to do “one-hand”

While they were busy biking around, I was busy taking pictures and trying out this Strawberry-flavored taho. In my 28 years of existence, this has to be my first.

Next stop…boating

Look at the faces of these happy campers, they really were willing to try anything. Well it’s not all the time they can come home to the Philippines so I’m guessing they’re making the best out of this trip

This reminds me of Swan Lake in Enchanted Kingdom, only difference is we had actual paddles instead of bicycle pedals

The Captain and his 1st mate 😀

And of course we were going in circles..haha! Marco was trying to teach the kids the concept of paddling and which way to move the oars to row to whichever direction

After a long day at the park we headed back to the condo and rested for awhile until the next meal

Foodstop #2: Sage

How quaint this little place in all its pastel glory….reminds me of candy. Yum!

Everything we tried for dinner was impressively good but of course I went gaga over the desserts posted above. Below is a copy of their sample menu. Good call again, Marco! 2 out of 2 so far.

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Here’s a copy of the current menu of Sage.

Day 2

The main agenda for today was to take the kids horseback riding. That has always been something my brother and I would look forward to every time we’d visit Baguio when we were younger. Our trip was never complete without this activity on our itinerary and my dad made sure of that, he’d tell us stories about his

Tres Marias—Me, Pauline and Marie

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Marco

Pop

Angelie

Nicole

The only photo taken of all of us on horses and it had to be through an iPhone. #grrrblurr

The kids petting the horses at Wright Park.

We were ganging up on the “Korean looking” one (no racism intended)

Someone is clearly not in the mood for photos. It’s soooo easy to guess who….

We ❤ Baguio

Foodstop 3: Happy Tummy

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This place is actually located inside what we call the Ketchup: The Food Community— a melting pot for all sorts of cuisine, perfect place to be if you’re a foodie.

The best place to eat since it’s located right across Wright Park where we went for our horseback riding, how convenient is that.

Wood furnishings filled up the rather small but cozy area of this restaurant. I’d say it was going for a Filipino rustic vibe

Clearly loving Baguio and the Thai food that we’re about to have. Bon Appetit!

Last stop—Philippine Military Academy

My dad wanted the kids to take a look at some tanks and artillery , mostly left overs from WWII

Korean War Memorial

Honeymooners

Marco helping B.I.L up the tank

Pauline

Ann Marie

My hubby with the Ramas sisters (2nd generation)

Goofing around with the husband

Souvenir hoarding before driving back to Quezon City

Had a photo with some military men who happened to pass by

Baguio #ootd

~Rhea