Entries Tagged as 'Houston'

The holiday in review

January 4, 2015

We’re back in Brooklyn after two weeks of Christmas-ing!

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Here are some of the holiday highlights…

Going to Central Market on Christmas Eve morning. We had breakfast there and then shopped for holiday treats and gifts, our Christmas beef tenderloin, and fresh flowers. We did the same thing last year and I was really looking forward to doing it again this year. That place is magical and this trip is my favorite Christmas tradition.

Antiquing. I hadn’t planned to do any antiquing over the break but after Eric suggested it, we ended up spending two days in antique stores. My best find was a set of ivory and gold dishes with 15 (!!) place settings that cost $50. FIVE. ZERO. I figured the price was some kind of a mistake at first. I also scored a 1950s home ec textbook, a few cookbooks, vintage Christmas ornaments and wrapping paper, a 1950s copy of Seventeen, and some other odds and ends. It was a great way to spend a weekend.

Visiting the outlets and stopping for lunch/more shopping at Bucee’s. 

Seeing my family in Michigan and binge-listening to Serial with my mom.

Drinking spiked egg nog, eating store-bought Christmas cookies (my favorite), and watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for the first time.

Other things of note from the past two weeks…

Reading

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League. This book is good (though slow in parts), and as the title implies is really sad. But the author does a good job of keeping you focused on the story in front of you as you’re reading, so you aren’t dreading the inevitable ending. Definitely recommend.

Science…For Her! I haven’t made up my mind about this book yet; I’m still reading.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War. I started this book yesterday; I’m halfway done and really like it so far. I added it to my wish list a couple months ago after reading this post about how the badass author responded to a sexist review. It’s just a fascinating topic and I’m excited to keep reading.

Writing

23 Photos That Prove Sideboob Tattoos Are The Best Tattoos

19 Unique Family Holiday Traditions

36 Families Whose Resemblance Can’t Be Denied

25 Tutorials To Teach You To Fold Things Like An Actual Adult

30 Photos That Prove Makeup Doesn’t Have To Be “Natural” To Be Beautiful. I’ve been thinking a lot about the way incredibly unnatural makeup subverts the expectation that women should be effortlessly beautiful, and I had a lot of fun looking for photos for this post. And now I really want lavender hair.

The week ahead…

Just getting back into the swing of things…I can’t really wrap my head around the fact that it’s January 2015!

The National Museum of Funeral History

November 1, 2014

There aren’t very many things on my Houston bucket list, but I really, really wanted to go to the National Museum of Funeral History before we move. I know it sounds a little out there, but I find American funeral culture pretty fascinating. And after going to the museum today, I’m so glad we did, because it was completely legit.

National Museum of Funeral History

I mean, macabre, sure, but legit.

National Museum of Funeral History

The museum has a huge display of hearses, with some dating back as far as the 1860s. There were horse-drawn hearses, super-fancy hearses, sleigh hearses for the winter months, a lovely mint green and gold hearse (I was like Book that one for me, plz!), and celebrity hearses (the hearse that carried the body of Grace Kelly, and the hearse used for the last two presidential funerals). There was also a hearse party bus.

Hearse party bus | National Museum of Funeral History

Apparently, someone back in 1916 was like, “Hey, guys! Why not just have the casket and all the mourners all travel together in one huge vehicle?” (I’m kind of imagining him as the startup dudebrotrepreneur of the early 20th century. “Book a Hrse.co for up to 20 of your friends! Hrse is totally gonna disrupt the funeral industry!”) Anyway, the hearse bus was a perfectly fine idea until the bus tried to go up a hill and was too heavy in the back and…tipped, flinging all the mourners around, and causing the casket to overturn. No one was really injured, but it was retired from use.

It’s a shame that the hearses were so hard to photograph (it was hard to really capture their size, elegance, and ornate details, plus there was just a ton of glare throughout the museum) because they were all in fantastic condition and were just really cool, especially the older ones.

There was also history of embalming, complete with kinda spooky artifacts…like embalming makeup, chemicals, and equipment, handwritten instructions for embalming, and antique embalming tables.

Embalming instructions | National Museum of Funeral History

National Museum of Funeral History

National Museum of Funeral History

There was also a good amount of 19th century mourning ephemera, including hair wreaths and hair jewelry (gahhhhhh I KNOW), along with mourning attire and accessories.

National Museum of Funeral History

There were several caskets on display, including a huge casket built for three that was never actually used. Which is good, because I have no idea how one would lift or transport such a thing. (The story behind it was pretty interesting though. A man and a woman had it built after their child died; they planned to kill themselves and be buried in it with their child. But they changed their minds and it was never used. Years later, after her husband died, the woman tried to get her money back and the maker said no.)

There was also a section of the museum dedicated to the life and death of popes. To be honest, the first half of this was reallllllly boring, but the second part, which was all about the papal funeral and burial rites, was fascinating. (There was also an actual popemobile, which was neat!) This was followed by a section that focused on presidential funerals and included (among other things) a bunch of the final bills for them. The museum also had a bit of one Abraham Lincoln’s actual hairs…but sadly, not enough to make a hair wreath out of.

Other things of interest at NMFH…

– A large collection of memorial cards from celebrity funerals.

– A smaller exhibit on Día de Muertos.

– A collection of “fantasy caskets” from Ghana.

– Funeral home and casket advertisements and other funeral home artifacts. I was really into the small models of caskets that a funeral home might use to sell a particular model.

National Museum of Funeral History

National Museum of Funeral History

Despite the topic at hand, the museum wasn’t terribly sad or particularly gross. The only thing that kind of caught me off-guard was when I turned around and saw two children’s caskets in the back of one of the first hearses; that was…unsettling. But aside from that, the entire experience felt very…detached. It was more about the funeral business and the history of funerals, which felt appropriate. It was definitely one of the coolest museums I’ve been to!

For extra credit…

If you haven’t read it yet, Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is the best book on funeral/death culture. So fascinating and funny!

I’ve been wanting to read Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory ASAP, but I think it might be a good audiobook to listen to with Eric. I’m torn!

I will definitely be checking out this exhibit once we move to NYC!

Pioneer Farms

October 16, 2014

Last weekend, it was quite nice in Houston and I was craving some fall activity. Since the pumpkin patches are all geared toward people with children and there isn’t a cider mill within a half-day’s drive of here (when I did a Google search for cider mills near Houston, Google—who knows my exact location and everything about me—told me to go to Uncle John’s in Michigan, to which I responded, “DON’T YOU THINK I WANT TO, GOOGLE?”), Eric and I took a little road trip to Pioneer Farms in Austin.

Pioneer Farms

From what I saw on the Pioneer Farms website, I was expecting (or hoping for) something like Crossroads Village, which is like Colonial Williamsburg lite in Michigan. It’s loads of historic fun (or at least it was the last time I went there, in 1995). In reality, Pioneer Farms was…not nearly as good as Crossroads. It wasn’t terrible, and Eric and I had a lot of fun on our trip, but the place just sort of strange and disorganized. When we bought our tickets, the guy told us that he was also the blacksmith, but he was done for the day. (The website said the blacksmith demonstrations were from 10-3. It was 1:30.) And one got the impression that maybe the defunct farm machinery and the items and furniture in the restored houses weren’t exactly historically accurate…like maybe someone went to an antique store and was like, “Oh, that looks very pioneer-y!” and grabbed a bunch of kitchen stuff that was actually from the 1930s, not the 1870s. (If you think I’m being too harsh, consider that the master bedroom in the first house we went in had a mirror like this—still in the cardboard packaging!—leaning up against the wall in the master bedroom.) Their motto seemed to be “DGAF;” it left a lot to be desired, but that was all part of the adventure!

Pioneer Farms

Pioneer Farms

Pioneer Farms

Pioneer Farms

Pioneer Farms

It wasn’t all bad though. The highlight of the farm was, hands down, the collection of buggies and carriages from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Pioneer Farms

Well, that and the look on this naughty little donkey’s face as he decided to really make his presence known to us.

Pioneer Farms

I told you: DGAF.

A milkshake date

September 20, 2014

Last Saturday evening, I was feeling uninspired. Or maybe overly inspired? I’m not entirely sure. All I know is that I couldn’t focus on anything for more than two minutes and I was getting motion sickness from how quickly I was moving between writing (really, attempting to write) blog posts, editing photos, and browsing Pinterest and Instagram. Eventually I realized I just needed to step away from the computer and get out of the house. So I took my husband out on a milkshake date!

I had been wanting to take Eric to Grub Burger after going for the first time a couple weeks ago; I saw the boozy milkshakes on the menu and thought trying them would make for a perfect date night.

Eric and I were pretty heartbroken when our beloved Burger Guys closed earlier this year, but I hadn’t really considered that Grub Burger might be a worthy substitute. It’s not as good, but…it’s pretty good. I got the classic burger and added a fried egg like I used to do at Burger Guys and…it was a decent knock-off. Eric got the mac and cheese burger which was as ridiculous as it sounds. I took one bite and was like, “Nope.” It was good, just way too rich for me.

As for our milkshakes, I had planned to get the Dirty Kitchen Sink, which is made with chocolate vodka, pretzels, peanut butter, salt, butterscotch sauce, caramel sauce, chocolate chips, coffee grounds, and potato chips. I love sweet and savory together, so it sounded perfect. Unfortunately they were out of it (I’m…not sure how that works?) so I just kept it simple and went with the bourbon and caramel milkshake instead. It was great. (It also seemed really boozy, which was fine by me.) Eric got the Moonshine American Pie shake, which had apple pie moonshine, baked pie crust, apple pie filling, maple syrup, and kosher salt. It was yummy but the texture was a bit weird (with bits of apple pie coming up through the straw).

Maybe next time we’ll go totally retro and get one milkshake with two straws?

I stand with Wendy…literally

August 24, 2014

So, I saw Wendy Davis speak in Houston yesterday…and then this happened.

Wendy Davis

I’m not even close to over it yet.

Team Wendy

August 10, 2014

Thursday was the fourth anniversary of my move to Texas. Some days, I still feel like I just moved here, and other days I feel like I’m really getting the hang of it. But one thing that’s making me feel more at home in this crazy state is joining the group of Texans who are working to turn Texas blue and put a new governor in office.

Eric and I recently offered up our spare bedroom as supporter housing for Team Wendy, and our boarder arrived yesterday! She works full-time for the campaign and living closer to HQ (and not having to sit in Houston traffic for two hours a day) will allow her to do her job better. I’m really excited to be able to support the campaign in this way, and to have her around! (When she’s not working her ass off seven days a week, that is.)

I’ve got does in different area codes

August 9, 2014

I came across Tiny Deer Studio at Pop Shop Houston this spring, and loved all of photographer Jessica Lopez’s pastel-colored prints. She features several different miniature animals (and dinosaurs), but I’ve always had a thing for deer/reindeer so I was drawn to those. 

Photo by Tiny Deer Studio

Photo by Tiny Deer Studio

Photo by Tiny Deer Studio

I mentioned to Eric last weekend that one of the prints would make a great birthday present…and the next day, I received a gift card from his parents to Society6, which is basically a Cafe Press for hipsters. I was able to get a few Tiny Deer prints, along with a couple of other items from different shops. I’ve actually been working on framing/hanging up photos and prints over the past few weekends, so I’m pretty excited for these new additions to arrive! 

All photos by Tiny Deer Studio.

Locally Yours at Anthropologie

August 3, 2014

Yesterday I stopped by Anthropologie’s pop-up mart of Houston-made goodies.

 Locally Yours at Anthropologie Houston

 Locally Yours at Anthropologie Houston

 Locally Yours at Anthropologie Houston

 Locally Yours at Anthropologie Houston

 Locally Yours at Anthropologie Houston

 Locally Yours at Anthropologie Houston

Tout Suite Houston

Tout Suite Houston

Tout Suite Houston

The highlights…

Getting a beautiful bouquet from Bramble and Bee. 

Trying the different chocolates from Brown Paper Chocolates. After tasting a few flavors, I settled on a block of white chocolate, which contains lavender, Pimm’s, chevril, and black pepper. 

Meeting up with Ashley and Jared from Sugar & Cloth at Anthro and talking business over coffee and treats from Tout Suite. I had never been to Tout Suite before and am still not entirely sure it’s real…it might be something I just willed into being after spending too much time on Pinterest. 

The Billfold: You Never Leave Houston

June 23, 2014

“We attract engineers from Midwestern state schools and school teachers from Florida—people who want to make a good income, and maybe get married, buy a house, and have a couple of kids. But that’s not enough. We don’t want to just be safe, and rich, and comfortable. We want to be cool.

…Understanding Houston means understanding summer. It’s hard for out-of-towners to grasp how central an organizing principle summer is to life in Houston. It lasts, almost like the seasons in Game of Thrones, an interminable amount of time, beginning around mid April and abetting in the beginning of October, a six-month period of full blast air-conditioning and socially acceptable sweat stains.” 

— From You Never Leave Houston by Aboubacar Ndiaye on The Billfold

Cheap dates

June 8, 2014

Cloud 10 Creamery banana split

Yesterday, in an effort to enjoy summer/not spend every weekend working, I took Eric out on a banana split date. After seeing Cloud 10 Creamery and its banana split on a list of the best ice cream shops in America, I was really excited to try it. After we handed over $10 and waited while they carefully and lovingly made (and torched!) our banana split, we had this glorious creation on our hands.

Cloud 10 Creamery banana split

What you’re looking at: vanilla bean ice cream (SO good), chocolate ice cream, Nutella ice cream with marshmallows, whipped cream, banana, fruit jam, pecans, a chocolate shell, and fudge. Unsurprisingly, it was SO good. (Though we both agreed we’d get an extra scoop of vanilla ice cream instead of the chocolate ice cream next time.) After we finished it, we walked around Rice Village for a bit and did a little summer shopping. It was a perfect Saturday afternoon date, and we followed it with pizza and two episodes of Orange is the New Black last night. (Then Eric suggested we pace ourselves and “savor each episode.” Because “hey, let’s take things slow” is my favorite thing to hear a guy say.)

pool day

This morning, we took a delightful trip to The Fresh Market to pick up some breakfast items, and then, in an effort to not watch Orange is the New Black all day, I suggested we go to the pool. Last year, we went to the beach Galveston pretty regularly, but rather than spend the time and gas money to go there regularly this year, I started looking into public pools in the Houston area. So today we suited up and headed to Municipal Pool in Sugar Land, not really knowing what to expect. It turned out to be a really nice pool; the day was hot and sunny, and it was so relaxing to lie in the sun and catch up on magazines. The only downside was listening to the complaints of the woman who did not approve of the way some of the kids were jumping off the diving board, or the way the lifeguards were responding to her concerns. She sat directly next to me and shouted into her phone about for about 15 minutes about this, using phrases like “write them a letter” and “town hall meeting.” But the pool was very nice, the kids (even the diving board kids) were well-behaved (they apologized to me whenever they cursed in front of me), and it was only $5 for Eric and me, making it a wonderfully cheap date. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner, as I’m much more of a pool person than a beach person (though I will never be an actual water person). 

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