• 04Apr

    We needed to get away. After our best-laid plans to go to Paris for the “paperwork trip” failed, we made plans for another MicroVacay. (If a vacation is a few days, and a mini vacation is a weekend, then we consider a day trip without an overnight stay to be a micro vacation.) We went to Marble Falls where we found even more stuff to do than on our previous visits.


    our view

    bluebonnets were thick along the roadsides…

    …and out in the fields, too.

    Marble Falls has a dalmation-painted fire hydrant.




    99 bottles of beer on the wall.

    This was my dream car in ~1993. I even wanted this color.

    This view is atop a hill in Marble Falls next to a restaurant and event center.

    “Stonehenge”

    “Stonehenge II” down below.

    Moar! Blue! Bonnets!

    Desserts: sundae for E, key lime pie for L

    And, we did all of this in our new car (our 4th Mazda, zoom zoom!)! We went in for an oil change and they worked a miracle for us for a new one. We upgraded features for just a tiny bit more than we were already paying. Plus, we got a color this time (blue). The gray one just never worked right after its accident.

    I’m calling her Bonnie (and did pictures early) in hopes of warding off any bad luck we had with Stormy (who never really got a name and who never got photographed until that chick ran into us at the red light and did $8500 in damages).

    The drives were pretty. The patio enjoying was fabulous. The little shops/boutiques were wonderful. The walks/hikes were great. And we plan to go back in June for their adult soap-box derby.

  • 02Apr
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    Last Sunday,, we took advantage of the gorgeous day to drive through part of the hill country. 

       

                  

    The views from atop a hill (near the build site of a $550+K home) were spectacular. Even the low lake looked pretty. The bright green young leaves gave the hills an interesting color pattern.

  • 15Jan

    Ever since I was a kid, I have loved good advertising: in print, on television commercials, and more. I used to ask to say up longer for “just one more commercial”. My parents usually agreed. Hey, it was 30 seconds and it was another “story”. I do admire the ability to tell a story in only a few seconds. I should work that into this blog, huh? ;)

    Anyway, I have had the experience to enjoy, but never the resources to purchase the products of what I consider to be two perfect brands: Baccarat and Tiffany & Co., chronologically.

    Backstory

    When I was growing up, if we wanted to go shopping, we drove two hours one way to the nearest (crappy) mall. Driving 100 miles (in two hours!) for the day is perfectly normal in Texas.

    I must have inherited my love of crystal from my dad because there is no other explanation. He and my mom spent the last few years of his life looking for “finds” at flea markets. To this day, her collection of crystal candlesticks is the most impressive I’ve ever seen. None of them would blow you away, probably, but they are quite nice. No two are alike and they make an impressive statement on her mantle.

    When I moved to Bryan + College Station, one of the benefits was/is that it’s only ~2 hours from Austin or Houston and only ~3 hours from Dallas or Fort Worth. Of course, this can depend on where you want to go in those cities. Still, you can do something fun that you can’t do “at home” within 2-3 hours. The Galleria shopping mall in Houston is one such example.

    Baccarat

    On a lonely end of Houston’s Galleria is the Baccarat store. Baccarat’s crystal is unlike any other. Their artistic pieces sparkle like diamonds. Their vases would show off the grandest of floral arrangements. Their flower “basket” is still a piece over which my memory drools. When you walk in the store in Houston, the showcase piece is probably fifty grand. One of my all-time favorite pieces is still listed on their site for $13K. Their ice bucket at Neiman Marcus is $650 before taxes and shipping. And we weren’t in Neiman Marcus for their “franchise” pieces; we were in their official store where they carry the better stuff.

    DA Joyce Rafferty: Objection, why is this relevant?
    Elle: I have a point, I promise.
    The Honorable Marina R. Bickford: Then make it.”
    -from Legally Blonde

    The first time we went in, I was afraid they’d be scared of us being in the store. I respected the work and treated the place like a museum. I held my purse in my hands instead of on my shoulder and didn’t touch a thing without supervision and/or permission. I still do these things because that’s how I feel about their pieces of art.

    I don’t know if it’s their sales technique or my obvious respect for their works, but each and every time Emil and I went there, we were treated as if we’d buy that fifty-thousand-dollar centerpiece to the store. Every time we went to the Galleria, I wanted to do my little “museum” stop at Baccarat. I can’t promise I’ll ever make the kind of money to own one of their pieces, but I will try.

    And, for the record, Baccarat carries some small crystal pieces and tchotchkes that are reasonable. If it’s a real goal, “anyone” can own a piece of Baccarat. One of these days, I’ll splurge on one of the tiny pieces.

    Other Backstory

    We are currently a one-car family. Today I needed to go to our down-South-because-he’s-worth-the-drive dentist for a cleaning. I used it to test my new membership with Car2Go to see how it might work for us as a second car for the medium-to-long term. Emil dropped me off at The Domain on his way to work next door. I hung out until I needed the car, grabbed one of the ~8 parked there, went to the dentist, and then dropped the car back off before Emil met me for an early dinner. It worked out well, and Car2Go would be perfect for us except for getting all the way to The Domain to use one. That part is a little hassle.

    Tiffany

    Perhaps the most well-known luxury brand is Tiffany. No one is unfamiliar with their work. And, they had the best early-on product placement in the world with Breakfast at Tiffany’s (and again later with another Reese Witherspoon flick Sweet Home Alabama). [Come to think of it, they had a significant presence in Legally Blonde, too. They must love Reese as much as I do!]

    Today, I was stuck in blustery winds between the Car2Go parking spot and where Emil wanted to meet for supper and found myself passing Tiffany & Co.. After a brief encounter with a visitor, I popped in. While our tourist got the information she needed, I saw that I was the only “customer” among a sea of their staff members, and admitted I only wanted to see and admire the pretties. (Bored and) happy to oblige, Sherry took me around the whole store and educated me about the artists, their collections, and the Tiffany & Co. pieces. The high was something like 37 today, so I was dressed more like a homeless person than anyone who should have been shopping at The Domain, never mind at Tiffany, but I was treated like I’d plunk down any amount of money to have a pretty bobble. No mention of price was ever made (nor did I ask). When I asked if her training took her to the flagship store in NYC, she sadly wished it would. Even though she has kids, when I asked what she did for fun, she said, “try on engagement rings!” and then told me one of her techniques for showing how the Tiffany pieces are so grand.

    During my adventure, I held delicate engagement rings, yellow diamond pieces, earrings, necklaces, and “memory” rings to mark special occasions. I was treated just as nice as any “real” customer. And, I learned a lot about the Tiffany product and why their craftsmanship makes it worth more money.

    And, for the record, Tiffany & Co. has over a hundred gifts under $150. If it’s a real goal, “anyone” can own a Tiffany piece. I’ll add this to my list, too. One of these days.

    Brand

    A true “brand” is about far more than the colors and logos. Those things help potential customers identify/recognize the company, but a great brand affects people in their emotions and in their hearts. Baccarat and Tiffany both do this, for me and for a lot of other people, too.

    So, what brands out there affect you with more than just a good product. Which ones make you want to be part of their family?

     

  • 05Dec
    Birthday Bacchanal 2012

    Emil and several of our #childfree friends have late-November through early-December birthdays: Kelly, Jeff, Emil, Judy, and Ryan. So, we made a huge weekend out of it for all of them.

    Friday, Jeff, Judy, Emil, and I went for Thai lunch in Cedar Park on our way to Flat Creek Estate winery. We had the most amazing wine tour ever and nice grounds for gentle “hike”. I definitely recommend the place as well as taking the day off from work to go on a weekday. (Look for it soon on AsYouWishAustin.com, too since they have wonderful wedding pakckages.) On the way back into town, we stopped off for Italian and then played What Were You Thinking? Saturday, a whole mess of people (Pam & Ryan, Kelly, Tim & Sallie, Marvin & Keisha) joined us at Independence Brewing‘s monthly beer party. After a siesta, Pam and I threw a Dr. Who themed party for the birthday kids. Sunday morning, Jeff/Judy/us went to brunch at the new Jack Allen’s kitchen in Round Rock.

    Anyway, here are a few of my favorite shots from the weekend.

    this one will become a water color quite soon!


    I don’t think I’d ever been to a vineyard in the fall. It’s a totally different look!


    It was so nice to enjoy the fall colors in Hill Country!


    awwwww!


    This glass (with a category five HURRICANE) is from Independence Brewing’s fifth anniversary party.


    The elusive Maya made a grand appearance at the party.


    And Kitten Pickles did her best to steal the show!

     

    I’m already looking forward to next year’s Birthday Bacchanal™

    ™ trademarked by the lovely Judy

  • 05Sep

    Down the road from us, they are building some new apartments. We already know how it will affect our traffic patterns, and it’s no big deal.

    The construction is literally a big deal, however. They are tying the new complex into our main lines; I’m sure this is standard. What’s big is what they are doing it with. This “ditch witch” stands a good 20′ high and has a blade that digs that far down into the ground through our limestone and other bedrock. It’s a beast.

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    It feels like we are the background to a new sci-fi movie on Mars. Anyone seen rover running around?

  • 22Nov

    Oskar, the blind kitten and his first toys. He has a brother, Klaus, who has sight, so if you follow the video thread, you’ll see them both.

    Love, compassion, and even sight. Just a few more things to be thankful for!

  • 07Nov

    Thanks to @idodoodle, we have now seen a Blue Lime (Internet Cafe) in the Philippines. Yay for the “franchise”! Now, if we could only get them to pay their fees…. hmmmm? ;)

    “Czech” it out!

    Blue Lime in Phillippines

  • 07Oct

    A while back, @TheBloggess had me ROFLMAO with her giant metal chicken story and follow up. I even put the necklace on my Wish List.

    So, when I went to help a friend with a little photography project, I almost ran off the road upon sighting this entire family of metal chickens in an array of sizes!

    Knock Knock Motherfucker

    Happy Friday. If a giant metal chicken comes a knockin’ don’t answer the door!

  • 13Sep

    While researching some blog material back in the spring, I found that Tacori was giving away an engagement ring from their new line. So, I signed up to win the beauty. I didn’t win the gorgeous ring, but I did win one of the other 99 prizes: a pair of “Jelly bean” diamond earrings in a “pincushion” style mount.

    I didn’t know what I’d do with them. When do I ever have an occasion to wear something like that.

    They arrived today and I may never take them off. They are stunning.

    Tacori earrings

  • 17Jun

    In prepping my facebook photo for Fathers’ Day weekend, I found this comment about him.

    Larry Dean Salter - Prairiland ISD

    Larry Dean Salter. He understood that you could sometimes help a student more by giving them a break [than] by always going 100 percent by the rules. It wasn’t just black or white…sometimes it was OK for there to be a little gray.

    Thank you, Jeff, for your kind words. I can’t believe this has been there for a year and I just now saw it.