If I Had Only…

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I often find myself wishing I had done SOME things differently.. “if I had only..”
1. Tried harder in school. – One of my biggest regrets is failing to finish what I started. Sometimes life just gets in the way. But I havent given up. I WILL DO THIS!
2. Taken better care of myself. – my face is showing the years of abuse of failing to put sunscreen, of baking in the sun lathered in baby oil. I wish I had started using moisturizer thirty years ago, not two.
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3. Traveled more – fortunately for me, my job has taken me to some amazing places. UNfortunately, it’s just not the same unless im sharing it with my family. I wish I had taken more time to see the world when I was younger and more free of responsibilities. Hopefully, I can make up for the lost time. There is a giant world out there and I want to see it all!
4. Taken a few more chances – although “playing it safe” got me to where I am now (where is that?) what was I so afraid of?
5.  Worried about my credit. – This should be the MOST important thing! If I had only listened to everyone who told me to stay away from those credit cards.
6. Not cared so much about what others thought – in the grand scheme of things, what difference did it make that I didnt get invited to that awesome party?
7. Spent more time with my grandparents – all of my grandparents are gone.. and so are their stories.
8. Learned how to cook. – My kids would eat a lot more than french fries and pizza.
9. NOT allowed myself to get caught up in drama. I mean, who really needs more drama..
10. Appreciated what was right in front of me .

STAY-CATION – San Antonio, TX

There is something to be said about becoming a tourist in your own back yard. Although I have been to SA hundreds, if not thousands, of times, I have never really SEEN it.. not like this anyway..
I lived there for eight years as a child and had never even heard of the Majestic Theatre. It wasn’t until I moved away and came back as an adult that I became slightly obsessed with it. On my Bucket List was not only to see a show there, but to see a very specific show.. Phantom of the Opera – and that’s just what I did.
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And it was SPECTACULAR!
Who would have known I could experience such beauty in my own back yard?
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We started out with a fabulous dinner in a wonderful little restaurant themed after shows called the Houston St. Bistro. The show themed meals really help increase the excitement levels of the show you are about to watch. And can you say “genius idea”?  I had the Phantom of the Opera dinner, of course.. it was delicious and may still be my favorite meal OF ALL TIME.
Then on to the show!
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How to describe… I dont think there are enough words in the English dictionary to explain how in love I am with this theatre.
Located in the heart of downtown San Antonio, Texas, it was built in 1929 and was designed in a Spanish Mediterranean style, a style that is seen throughout. It is currently

recognized as one of the most ornate facilities in the country. The Majestic stood proudly for many years as the largest theatre in Texas and the second largest motion picture theatre in the country.

A change in entertainment led to a closing of its doors in 1974. It remained closed until 1976 where a new group took over and occasionally hosted a show or two. In 1989 it was “officially” reopened for the Symphony of San Antonio (another to add to that ever growing Bucket List) until 1995 where it was adopted by the city of SA and given a million dollar renovation. Today it stands, in all its glory, waiting for you to stop by and admire. You can find more details about the evolution of the Majestic here  All I can say is if you are ever in SA, dont miss it!

But the tour couldn’t stop there! The following day we decided to visit the Tower of the America’s. Boy, has that changed! COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from what I remember.. but the rotating restaurant still remains.. the view is as AMAZING as ever, and the food.. TO DIE FOR.
For $12 you can travel 750 feet into the clouds and enjoy a view of the city you cannot find anywhere else.
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Maybe it’s because i’m (slightly) older or because I now appreciate things I never did before but that City is my home and a giant piece of my heart will always remain there..even if they never do finish that construction!IMG_0297-EFFECTS

New Orleans; So Much More Than Mardi Gras

(Original Post Feb 2016)
What if you knew of a place where the scenery changes every single day; a place where the food is beyond amazing and the music, best ever! A place where centuries old architecture is the backdrop for a culture so invigorating, it’ll rouse your soul and your spirit. Well, i think I found JUST that place! New Orleans-
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The Music

First and foremost, the music. The sounds come from every street corner and echoes throughout the city. Even with so many sounds happening at once, you cant help but find your favorite and hear it above all the others sounds.

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The Food

Then of course, the food… under no circumstances are you to leave there without visiting Cafe Du Monde.. one word of caution… DO NOT WEAR BLACK.. it doesn’t matter how careful you are.. you will get that powder all over you.

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I had the privilege of visiting that glorious city twice in the same year. One for work and one was strictly for pleasure. Both were equally entertaining and both visits had me seeing aspects of the city that were totally different from each other. IMG_1718
One trip was a bit more laid back than the other. I did alot of walking, alot of sightseeing, alot of picture taking. I toured the “haunted” mansions, ate more food than I should have, and even took some time to attend a mass service.

The Scenery

The other trip was a party the second I stepped off the plane. I dabbled in “colorful pastries”, spent more time on Bourbon Street than I should have and had my future told to me by a gypsy. Not quite sure I believe everything she said but, let’s just say, a girl can hope!20180412-IMG_1749I am under strict instructions to take the details of what happened during that trip to the grave – so thats exactly what I will do!

House of Cards (aka Washington DC)

(Original post 04/2016)
Another work trip.. but I cant complain when it’s a place as gorgeous and filled with history as this one.
Leaving a day early for some sightseeing is definitely a habit I will keep. Going to work knowing I have seen what’s on the other side of the hotel window is a lot easier than staring out of it the entire time I am there, praying for light that isn’t florescent.
 
We arrived Saturday evening, and although it was cold, we hit the town.
I was told that it being  as cold as it was actually helped us beat the crowds, but when you cant feel your face, it’s hard to appreciate Lincoln in all his glory.
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And while, he is indeed magical, IM FROM TEXAS.. and I was too cold to enjoy the beautiful scenery, so we called it a night and opted for dessert and wine instead.
The next day was much nicer and we took advantage of the sun peeking out to do some sightseeing.
We started on the hunt for a restaurant that had gotten some great reviews and ended up at a wonderful Farmer’s Market.12933113_10206720197749189_7431866570549192416_n
Seeing places like this really make me want to move. I love the outside, I love SHOPPING outside.. seeing the colors of the art, the plants, the fruit.. and all of the “colorful” people that sell them. For me, it’s a breathe of fresh air and I love every single second of it.
 
We spent way more time there than we should have and I didn’t regret a second it.. but we did have sights to see, people to meet.. so off we went!

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From there, we headed over to the Washington Monument. Now, I had already been told that you had to be there early to get a ticket to go up, but no one told me you had to be there BY 7:30am. Needless to say, no tickets for us. So instead we walked around and enjoyed all of the monuments.. and trust me, there are plenty.
We started with the World War II Memorial, then the Korean Monument, then headed over to the Vietnam Monument. Each was exquisite and beautiful.. and something you have to see. 12985375_10206721580583759_8897820619544020486_n
 
 
We decided the White House was just too darn close not to go, so off we went.. ON FOOT.. it wasn’t too too bad.. and the hotdog we picked up along the way really helped.
The White House was.. well.. white.. Ok, so I’m from Texas and we have HUGE houses here.. so I really wasn’t all that impressed.
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I was more disappointed we couldn’t get a tour.. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand security and how important it is, but that house belongs to the citizens.. shouldn’t getting in to see it but available??
 
Anyway, we couldn’t get in so we opted for hanging out outside. The courtyard across the street was actually really pretty so we sat and rested and took in the scent of all the tulips.105.jpg
TIP: If you want to go, book WAAAAY in advance.
When it was all done I would have to say it’s a city I would love to come back to – WITH SOME PLANNING, and ALOT more time.  Two days just isn’t enough. I’m sad to report it wasn’t even my first time there. I had been before and only got to see about half a days worth.

Sigh.. I really need to get out more often.

Until next time!

The Gossip Girls Take NYC

Three generations taking on the Big Apple, Gossip Girl Style!

(Original post on March 2016)
It has always been my dream to take my mom and daughter on THEIR dream vacation. And in March of 2016, that’s exactly what I did!
Three generations, ready to take on the world (ok, only New York, but you get the idea). Emotions were running high, excitement was in the air.. life was perfect!
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We started our trip late Sunday afternoon.. it was my daughters first “real” flight and her nerves were getting the best of her.
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Monday
We went over to the Empire Hotel – because no REAL Gossip Girl Fan can stay anywhere else – dumped our luggage, and took off!
We started out with a quick walk to Serendipity. Of course, we had the iconic Frozen Hot Chocolate.
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                                          Definitely worth the walk (and the money)
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From there we walked over to the end of the block for a little         pick me up at Dylan’s Candy Bar.. I had had enough sweets (never thought I would say that!) so I opted for a signature umbrella.. it broke after about 5 minutes…. yeah, all about decoration – functionality – ZERO.
The weather was still pretty crappy and figured it was a good “inside” day so we hit up the MET and the Guggenheim.. keep in mind we are from Texas. For us, those were FREEZING temperatures. For everyone else, it was just “chilly”.
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By this point we were pretty frozen (again, we come from SOUTH Texas) so we made our way back to the hotel and got settled in for the night.. with PIZZA!
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All in all, it was a WONDERFUL first day to our trip!
We, on the other hand, are tourists.. it was all new to us.. we spent ALOT of time looking at maps, phone apps, guides – but in the end we just ending up asking people where we should get off and what to do from there. Considering this city has a reputation of being mean, everyone was pretty helpful.. even the man next to us who did not seem as excited as we were to be on this train.. 🙂
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We rode “the metro” all the way over to the South Ferry and made our way over to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. (Ok, so now we sound like natives.)
The Statue is free to see (obviously) but the ferry ride to get there is about $20. If you want to climb the 377 steps to get to the crown, wear good shoes – and it would help to be in decent shape. It’s NOT an easy climb, but well worth the $3 it costs to go up there.
From there, we walked over to the 911 Memorial. If you are limited as to what you can see in New York, make sure this place makes the list. You walk out of there with a whole new appreciation for life and this world we live in. September 11th will always be one of the days where you remember where you were the minute you heard about it.
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“That day, at 9:03am, America became a neighborhood and we all became New Yorkers.The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom. –Rudolph W. Giuliani.”
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At this point, our feet were screaming so we took a cab over to Grand Central Station. No self respecting Gossip Girl fan can be in that city and NOT go to GCS.
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Totally took me by surprise that we were even able to have a decent dinner there.. you could probably even buy groceries and go to the salon. It is, literally, a city underground.
By this time, my handy dandy step counter said we had walked over 8 miles and my feet were feeling it so I did what I had to do.. I bought sketchers. Best decision EVER.
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Times Square was all that they say it is.. it’s sort of like Vegas – on steroids. The lights were bright, the energy was amazing.. and the shopping was awesome.
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We really couldn’t take anymore so us, thinking we knew all there was to know about NYC, took a subway to some random location and then realized we had no idea where we were so we took a $30 cab ride about 3 blocks to our hotel.. oh well.. lesson learned.
Wednesday
The sun was finally out and we had taken tired to a whole new level so we decided we’s take the day to “rest” – starting with a nice stroll through Central Park. We stopped and listened to the musicians, watched the dancers, and took in as much of our surroundings as we could possibly absorb.
file-15The entire park is 843 acres and filled with a ton of attractions.. but we had one goal in mind..  that was to find the Pulitzer Fountain (Location @ Wollman rink) where Blair and Serena met and the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain where Chuck and Blair got married.
(Location @ in the middle of Terrace Dr 72nd Street)
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It took about 4 hot dogs and several hours later but we finally found them both.
A late brunch (with a mimosa, of course) in the park and we slowly made our way over to the Empire State Building; stopping at a few stores along the way to shop.
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Not gonna lie; It’s a bit of a challenge to get there and the 102 stories up but the views are totally worth it.
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Not to mention that’s where Chuck was waiting for Blair.. so we HAD to go!
We walked back and stopped in at the New York Public Library where, apparently, they don’t hold any books anymore (disappointing) but the building was lovely and the shop inside made for some pretty interesting gifts.
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We continued the 2 mile trek back to our hotel and, literally, ran into Times Square! We had no idea we had been so close all along.
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A few more minutes in the Hershey store and we eventually dragged our way back to our room… completely “chocolate wasted”…
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“Each neighborhood of the city appeared to be made of a different substance, each seemed to have a different air pressure, a different psychic weight: the bright lights and shuttered shops, the housing projects and luxury hotels, the fire escapes and city parks.”
Thursday (final full day in NYC)  
We started off with a subway ride to Hoboken, New Jersey – home of Carlo’s Bakery.. We crossed the Hudson and easily found it.. and it was WONDERFUL! OMG! Those cannoli’s – TO DIE FOR!
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From there, we decided we needed to burn off the hundred thousand calories we had just consumed by taking a stroll through the town. It was quaint and practically perfect.
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“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” Tom Wolf
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We easily found our way back to the City and made our way over to China Town.. it wasn’t my favorite place to be but something you need to see at least once.. it’s China INSIDE a city.. even the McDonalds was in Chinese!

We found Little Italy and walked through there to do some more shopping, then decided file-26to head back to the hotel to “rest” before dinner…. only we all fell asleep..

All in all, it was pretty great. There were a few things we missed but we hit all of the “main” attractions..  Besides, NY isn’t a place you can only visit once. So we will definitely be back..