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May 18, 2016

Ah, be still my heart! San Antonio is not only one of my favorite cities but the Alamo is one of my favorite historic sites. I can still remember watching a movie about the battle there at the Imax across the street then walking through the gates of the Alamo envisioning the bravery and sacrifice that happened on those very stones. Men who were already legends in their own right came together to defend freedom! Remember the Alamo and the sacrifice given to preserve something greater than themselves.

Alamo Cenotaph, The Spirit of Sacrifice

Menger Bar is where Teddy Roosevelt gathered and called the Rough Riders

We didn’t look through the museum but it was a fun place to stop and just look around!

I fell in love with the King Williams Historic District with all its old houses and history!

Guenther House was built by the founder of Pioneer Flour Mills for his family and is now a cute museum and restaurant.

Something new we did that I highly recommend is take a boat ride down the River Walk. We learned so much history we had never heard and the views from the water were so beautiful!

And of course a trip to Texas wouldn’t be complete without some Blue Bell ice cream to round out the day before driving to the airport and flying home!

May 17, 2016

San Antonio is one of my favorite cities! The history, foundation for the birth of Texas as a state, River Walk, patriotism,  and beauty all in one place! Because my sister was attending a music conference, we got to stay right in the middle of downtown and really explore a lot of the hidden and not so hidden gems of the city. There is just so much in the area to do that we already have a list for our next visit!

Mission San Jose in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

  • visiting the largest original and rebuilt mission, Mission San Jose
  • a small piece of the original fresco painting
  • las tres amigas

Mission San Juan and aquaduct in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

  • Mission San Juan
  • the aquaduct built to bring water to the farthest missions for crops, etc.

Mission Espada in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

  • Mission Espada

Mission Concepcion in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

  • Mission Concepcion
  • what looked to be an abandoned old school that I wanted to renovate!

Time for Three concert in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

  • we were all able to get tickets for both of the concerts at the music teachers’ conference and they did not disappoint! we were able to see both Emmanual Ax and Time for Three in concert and while youtube is great, there’s nothing like seeing a live performance!

 

A Texas native, rancher and stateman, Jose Antonio Navarro lived through Texas as a part of Spain, Mexico, the republic of Texas, and finally the United States. His original home is preserved right in the middle of the city as a museum and history tour of Texas.
Casa Navarro in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

Casa Navarro in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

Statue of Jose Navarro in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

Casa Navarro in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

Casa Navarro in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

Interactive educational displays at Casa Navarro in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

Statesman Jose Navarro at Casa Navarro in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

Market Square
Market Square in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

O'Henry House in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

    • O’Henry’s house and where he started his newspaper

Governor’s Palace
Governor's Palace in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

Governor's Palace courtyard in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

Field of bluebells in the Texas hill country by California wedding photographer.

While I might greatly disagree with the policies and leading of our former president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, it was really inspiring to visit his childhood home and hear how his parents and upbringing greatly influenced who he became as a person and president.The childhood home of Lyndon Baines Johnson in the Texas hill country by California wedding photographer.

The childhood home of Lyndon Baines Johnson in the Texas hill country by California wedding photographer.

The one-room schoolhouse where LBJ grew up, the house where he was born, and the family cemetery.
Church, schoolhouse, birthplace, and cemetary final resting place of Lyndon Baines Johnson in the Texas hill country by California wedding photographer.

LBJ Ranch including where the Secret Service worked and the runway where Air Force One-Half flew in and out of, all on a working cattle ranch.
Air Force One-Half and Lyndon Baines Johnson's Texas Whitehouse in the Texas hill country by California wedding photographer.

The Texas White House including the Cabinet Oak The home of Lyndon Baines Johnson, aka the "Texas Whitehouse" in the Texas hill country by California wedding photographer.

The hill country around San Antonio is just beautiful, especially during poppy season!
Field of red poppies at Wildseed Farms in the Texas hill country by California wedding photographer.

Red poppies at Wildseed Farms in the Texas hill country by California wedding photographer.

A trip to San Antonio isn’t complete without authentic Mexican fajitas!
Leftover fajitas at Mi Tierra in Market Square in San Antonio, Texas by California wedding photographer.

May 14, 2016

Even up to the morning of the idea of being able to visit Magnolia Market at the Silos seemed like a dream. But there we were loading up into our rental car to head out on a 2 1/2 hour drive to Waco, Texas! And what a drive it was–cute little towns with fields of wildflowers in between and just great, quality time with my aunt and uncle!

But before we go any further, I have a confession to make. While my sisters and mom have been watching Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines, the creators of Magnolia Market and the Silos, from the very beginning, I had only seen a few episodes while my plane was stuck on the Chicago runway last summer. But from their descriptions, the few episodes I’d seen, and occasionally perusing their instagram feeds, I knew I loved them and their style!

So maybe it was because I hadn’t watched every episode that I thought the Silos would be on the outskirts of Waco, more out in the country. Imagine my surprise when the gps led us right into the middle of town, and there it was!

Walking up to Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

The entrance to Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

It was a little surreal being there in person! There’s still so much being built and added weekly!

The Silos and vintage, red truck at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

California photographer and family at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

When we arrived we were starving and headed straight to the food trucks. A couple were closed but we divided between the rest that were open to try them all out! The Co-Town Crepes truck was so cute!

Crepes food truck at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

They also had a juice bar and fire grilled pizza!

Cheddar Box grilled cheese food truck at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

But my absolute favorite was hands down the Cowboy Coffee at Common Grounds! I don’t know if it was just the secret sauce or also their coffee beans, but it was so smooth and creamy! I’m addicted and going through withdrawal as I type… It was the perfect thing to sip as we walked around the gardens.

magnolia_market_silos_coffee_food_truck_07

Entrance to the garden at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Magnolia Farms goats at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Just love how they partnered with World Hunger Relief Inc!

Lettuce growing and soon to be garden shop, Magnolia Seed + Supply, at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

This is the future home of the Magnolia Seed + Supply garden shop!

Magnolia Seed + Supply garden shop at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Little fairy gardens created by Joanna and her girls were scattered around the garden as well as this tipi for kids that would soon be covered completely with vines!

Fairy garden at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Hanging flower petal light at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

I had so much fun snapchatting the trip that sometimes I didn’t always get everything with my camera lol. Sometimes the iPhone is just too handy! But check out the grass turf area on the right with the Stay & Play toys for kids and families to hang out and have fun together!

Magnolia Market and Stay & Play grass turf at the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Magnolia Market at the Silos in Waco, Texas.

I just absolutely loved all the displays throughout Magnolia Market! It was a fun mix of new replicas and vintage antiques!

Fireplace and interior design inspiration displays at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Tulips and vintage vase displays at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Farmhouse sink and floral displays at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Rununculus flowers at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Graphic design wall art at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

This would be a cool backdrop for a wedding photobooth!

Bloom floral display at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Vintage kitchen items and decor at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Coming Soon–the Magnolia Flour bakery! I peeked inside and everything is already so cute! But no surprise there! Everything at the Silos was intentionally created and designed. Even the outdoor bathrooms had cute signs and beautiful white subway tile!

Magnolia Flour bakery coming soon at Magnolia Market the Silos in Waco, Texas.

Before the long ride home we opted to stop by the Commons Grounds coffee shop and grab one last cup for the road. We ended up choosing the Cowboy Coffee’s cousin, a frozen cappuccino which also featured the amazing special sauce, and The Heisman which tasted like green mint ice cream!

The best, most amazing, frozen cowboy coffee at Common Grounds coffee house in Waco, Texas.

Some of the family wandered next door to the newly opened Heritage Creamery for some yummy ice cream!

Hanging out with family before our long drive home at Heritage Creamery in Waco, Texas.

Just have to love the clean asthetic while still embracing the rustic shiplap walls and vintage vibe!Farmhouse, vintage decor at Heritage Creamery in Waco, Texas.

Tips for Visiting Magnolia Market the Silos:

  • Because the Silos are in the middle of town, you will be parking where ever you can find along the streets. Be careful as the church/school nearby has reserved parking and don’t park where not allowed.
  • If you can, try to go on one of the least busy days of the week. We went on a Thursday and still wished it was a little more empty to be able to enjoy it all a little more. I did notice that late afternoon had cleared out a little bit but plan to come early enough to be able to explore and not be rushed at closing time. (closed on Sundays)
  • If you haven’t been to Texas before, they’re not kidding when they warn about the heat. It was a pretty perfect day when we went but still the direct sun was brutal. Bring water, a hat, and drink down that iced Cowboy Coffee!
  • Magnolia Market has amazing, inspiring displays and everything is carefully curated. But just keep in mind that many boutiques and stores like Pottery Barn and Anthropologie have very similar products styles just so you’re not disappointed.
  • If you’re planning to buy things at Magnolia Market do all your shopping first. Someone can run everything to the car so you don’t have to carry it around and your receipt becomes a 10% off coupon for the food trucks!
  • If you’re a t-shirt lover just know that places like Harp Design Co., Common Grounds, and Heritage Creamery also sell their own t-shirts. I got the #shiplap design for myself but also loved the cute, ice cream graphic word design at Heritage Creamery!
  • If you have food allergies or just want something a little healthier at the food trucks, the crepe truck will turn your crepe toppings into a salad! My sister got a spinach, turkey, pesto, tomato, cheese salad, and I think it turned out to be the yummiest thing we ordered!
  • We were a little distracted by the long drive home so we didn’t visit all the other places we should have while in Waco. So be sure to make time to stop by Harp Design Co. and just explore a little in Waco. Magnolia Market has maps you can grab that show some of the local attractions. Also the Magnolia House bed and breakfast is in the town of McGregor outside of Waco. Oh and more Magnolia might be coming to Waco as the Gaines just purchased the historic Elite Cafe!

Another beautiful 2 1/2 hours later and we were pulling into the driveway of that night’s home away from home!

Sunset behind trees and a field of wildflowers in the hill country of Texas.

April 28, 2016

There’s definitely a part of me that loves the comfort of home and the stability of a regular schedule. Then there’s the side that loves to travel and explore new places! It’s all about balance, right? So while I’m working on incorporating more destination weddings into my schedule, I’m so glad for the couple weeks of travel my family takes every year to get away and do something different!

It had been quite awhile, so it was good to be able to head back to Texas. It’s a place I have mixed feelings about. I have a bit of family there, love the history, enjoy San Antonio, and can’t believe how friendly people are! But the possibility of having had to move there when I was younger always has me measuring it against California and coming short. What other place can match the west coast beauty and weather?! ;-)

Anyway, besides the stress of everyone having to finish taxes before we left, it really was the most perfect time of year to visit Texas! The wildflowers were in bloom, and, forgetting the one morning of (horrible) humidity, the weather was glorious! All the trees and green fields reminded me how beautiful Texas really is, and actually has me wanting to go back sooner than later!

 

Besides family, one of the best parts of the trip was visiting new places, including NASA! We all love history and it’s so much more fun getting to see the actual places where things happened. And walking in a life size replica of a space shuttle? So much better than looking at diagrams on paper!

Houston NASA and space shuttle tour for Texas travel photographer.

  • T-38 Talon planes used for training by astronauts
  • Freedom 7, the first capsule for human flight in space
  • Boeing 737 and a space shuttle replica

 

Mission Control and Saturn V for Texas travel photographer.

  • where mission control is housed at NASA
  • literally where the magic happened–the original mission control
  • mission control today
  • Saturn V

 

Tips for visiting NASA:

  • We planned for 5 hours but still left without seeing everything. Plan to get there when they open because it’s better to be done early than to have to leave without experiencing it all.
  • The tour shuttles can have long lines that do get shorter later in the day. Do most of your exploring at the beginning and jump into the red or blue shuttle lines  when it’s not so long of a wait. Just make sure you have enough time to do both before the end of your visit!
  • To reiterate, do both the shuttle tours! We ended up doing only one and are still sad we missing seeing the astronaut training center. Both have their last stop at Rocket Park, but you can always just jump on the next shuttle leaving the second time around as that stop can be however long you’d like!
  • The cafe prices are actually pretty decent and when you’re there for 5-6 hours, you’re going to need something to eat. Bottled water from the outside is allowed but take a time out to stop and eat. Oh and the cafe area has free wifi!
  • Speaking of eating, if you’re going to be there on a Friday, you can purchase a ticket online to eat with a real astronaut!
  • BEST TIP: While I recommend watching the documentary at the Destiny Theater, it was especially cool because as we finished and the doors were opening, an older gentleman came in to lead us on the tour on the whole history of the United States’ space exploration museum including stories and facts you can’t find anywhere in history books! It turns out he actually worked for NASA for years, including helping to choose the landing locations for trips to the moon, and donates his time for fun to lead these tours. But you have to choose your day carefully because he’s only there on Thursday afternoons!

 

 

Cousin visits, play monopoly, and celebrate Easter together for Texas travel photographer.

  • watching my cousin’s daughter, Emily, play softball
  • Easter with cousin’s kids
  • Sunshine, the cat, “hiding” in a water bottle carrier
  • the monopoly game that made us laugh until cried
  • books and more books–yes, we’re related!
  • gotta eat Mexican food in Texas!

 

It’s no secret that I have amazing family and getting to go see their new house and live with them for a few days was amazing!

Cousins in living room by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

 

Sunshine the cat by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

Maggie the dog by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

Cousins together by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

A confetti egg fight, monopoly where we loaned each other money to unite against the hotels on boardwalk and park place, Blue Bell ice cream, watching A-Team, staying up late to talk, Blue Bell ice cream, eating like kings, matching Siennas, worshiping together at church, Blue Bell ice cream, Starbucks stops…

Kids running with bubbles by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

And oh, all the teasing and craziness that just comes with being with family! One night it got dark quickly as I took pictures of the kids making bubbles so one person had the idea of mixing in glow sticks to the solution. While the bubbles didn’t really glow, after fight broke out, we sure did!

Glowing bubbles by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

Kid glowing in the dark by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

Glowing kids by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

After some days in the Houston area we headed out toward the hills to see our aunt and uncle. They had moved since our last trip and between scoops of Blue Bell ice cream (notice a trend?) we discussed furniture arranging, politics, cats, guns, plants, and I can’t remember what else!

House at sunset in field of blue bonnets by destination Texas travel photographer.

Live oak by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

Bitsy kept us from missing our two kitties so much!

Bitsy the cat by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

Model airplane by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

It’s tradish, we know at some point when we get together that we’re going to be practicing our skills with gun. It’s in Texas where we first learned to shoot, and while we didn’t have time for the crossbow this time, past trips have included throwing tomahawks and boomerangs.

Rifle shooting by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

Long distance shooting by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

Rifle barrel blast by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

Pistol shooting by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

Target shooting by destination travel photographer in Houston, Texas.

Roses and lily pads by destination Texas travel photographer.

 

In a round about way to San Antonio, we met up with the cousins one last time in Round Top. Little did I realize that the antique fair we were visiting is known around the country! I was able to find a couple of smaller sugar molds I could fit in my suitcase but I’ll probably always lament the chest with all the small drawers just like I’d always wanted!

Oh and when you’re stuck in traffic, sometimes it’s handy to just pull out a map! Coming back from Round Top it was estimated that it would be hours to go just a handful of miles. But looking on her phone, my cousin realized there was a road just a hundred feet back that would take us right around to the other side of the antique fair, right where we wanted to go! After sitting in traffic, there might have been a little hooting and hollering when we finally were able to fly down the road!Shopping for Antiques and eating brisket in Round Top for Texas travel photographer.

  • sign outside the pie house
  • cute little church
  • can’t go to Texas and not get brisket
  • or see a longhorn
  • the endless drawers I will never forget. road trip anyone?
  • wildflowers everywhere

August 29, 2015

Oh if only I knew what it would take to get to Pennsylvania…well, I would’ve packed more in my carry on to tide me over! I got up Thursday morning, finished packing, and made it to the airport and on the plane all in good time. Falling asleep pretty fast (one of my ?), I vaguely heard the pilot come over the intercom system and inform us that we were circling around Los Vegas and unable to land yet because of a local storm. Then when he said that because we were running out of gas that we were heading back to Sacramento, it felt more like a dream than reality. But reality sure set in as slowly the people around me on the plane realized that the pilot wasn’t kidding and the flight tracker showed the airport getting farther and farther away!

Once we landed in Sacramento, the plan was to fill up with more gas and head back, hoping the storm had subsided by then. But as the flight got delayed then delayed again, we were informed that our connecting flight to Pittsburgh was canceled! Once we finally made it up the line to the counter, we were also informed that the only other flight available for the rest of the weekend wouldn’t be until the next day. So to the hotel we went, with no luggage as it carried on its journey, not any closer to the east coast from where we had started that morning!

View from airplane over Nevada desert on family vacation to Pennsylvania.
-oblivious to any future predicaments
-Nevada desert as we turned back to California

View from plane over Los Angeles on family vacation to Pennsylvania.
-catching a last second shuttle from the hotel to the airport meant putting on makeup in the airport bathroom
-circling the Los Angeles airport because one runway was closed
-which also meant delays in leaving

View from plane of Chicago at sunset and during a thunderstorm on family vacation to Pennsylvania.
-Chicago city skyline
-sunset, one more day gone but we’re closer!
-storm in Chicago kept us parked on the runway for hours, though thankfully the pilot had gotten extra gasoline so we didn’t have to go back to the gate for more
-finally made it to Pittsburgh via Michigan only to find our rental car company had closed…hotel it is again!

Farms, countryside, bonfire, church started by great-great-great grandfather, and Betty Lou's restaurant on family vacation to Pennsylvania.
-3 days of travel that included the tunnel in Pittsburgh being closed, but we finally made it to the countryside to see family on Saturday evening!
-“supper” outside and napping on the hammock
-bonfire for s’mores
-great-great-great grandfather who touched so many lives
-partly through this church he started that’s still going today
-newer family tradition of eating at Betty Lou’s

One of the highlights was visiting my cousin and seeing Daesy Grace! She has grown so much in the past couple of years!
Farm and little girl portrait on family vacation to Pennsylvania.

Spunky and independent, Daesy is a little character with the funniest, deep belly laugh. No one can make her laugh like her brother, Colt, and she loves no one more than her daddy.
Farm and little girl with cat portrait on family vacation to Pennsylvania.Old Ford truck on farm on family vacation to Pennsylvania.Black farm cat on family vacation to Pennsylvania.

Common happenstance around the farm, a kitty rubbing my legs and trying to get some love!
Farm cat on family vacation to Pennsylvania.

Freshly picked lemon verbena–I want a pillow made from it!
Freshly picked lemon verbena on family vacation to Pennsylvania.Apple orchard and chicken on farm with little girl on family vacation to Pennsylvania.Farm chicken on family vacation to Pennsylvania.

Midweek we headed down to Virginia to visit our dear friends who are pretty much like family! See for yourself on the Starbucks cup!
Lunch at It's About Thyme with dear friends in Culpeper on family vacation to Virginia.

Visit with brother's fiancee in Lynchburg and Liberty University on family vacation to Virginia.
-we couldn’t get that close without driving down and seeing our brother’s fiancee–just wished she lived close so we could hang out more often
-though we drove by my alma mater, Liberty University, I was sad to not get to visit their beautiful library

Farm cat, cross in clearing, garden, and homemade soap on family vacation to Virginia.
-it was also fun to get to finally see Whole Heart Farm in person! Nelix, the kitty, is the grand-cat that came all the way from CA
-the cross in the clearing made for the perfect wedding ceremony location
-view of the garden looking out across the fields
-homemade soap that sells out at the local farmers market

Adopted family on family vacation to Virginia.
-our peaceful retreat

Amish blueberry pie, basketball game, cousins, and shooting on farm on family vacation to Pennsylvania.
-amish-made blueberry pie
-watching our cousin’s youngest win her last two basketball games
-kitty love
-road trip selfie with cousins
-oh just a target in the field
-enjoying shooting in the beautiful outdoors

It was amazing to meet my grandma’s cousin, Bernice, who is now the family matriarch!Family matriarch, grandma's cousin Bernice on family vacation to Pennsylvania.

Last night Cracker Barrel dinner with cousins on family vacation to Pennsylvania.
-little Daesy Grace enjoying a rocking chair just her size
-last night of vacation enjoying some Cracker Barrel with the cousins

Countryside of Pittsburgh vs dried up Folsom Lake of California on family vacation to Pennsylvania.
-leaving the green farmlands of Pennsylvania
-coming home to the drought in California, best shown by the receding shoreline of Folsom Lake

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