A Cowboy and A Campfire

This past weekend, we took a (too many superlatives to express such a great day) trip to visit my grandpa out at his ranch. I just love that word...."ranch." Use it in any sentence, and I'm all ears.

"Hey, do you want to go out to the ranch?".... I'm already in the car with my boots on.

"Okay, so there's the gate to the ranch, if you don't mind opening...." I'm already back in the car from opening the gate.

.... even the culinary meaning of the word produces a quick response.
"What kind of dressing would you like with that?"...."Ranch, please," I say without a second thought. "We also have blue cheese, Italian vinaigrette...." Eeeeww, I think to myself as the waiter trails on. "No, ranch is fine..." I respond, taking pleasure in the fact that I was able to utter "the word" more than once.

Back to my original story though. Our visit to see my grandpa, and his ranch. Actually, my grandpa has begun exchanging the phrase "the ranch" for "the home place." This is due to recent developments (imagine saying that with a British accent). Haha. My mom and dad have been discussing plans to place a couple of small cabins out there, which, as you can probably imagine, has me already thinking of bed placement and room decor scenarios. We are all excited. It is such a great place, this "home place" of ours, and the best fringe benefit of it all is that when we're there, we get to spend time with a cowboy and a campfire.

Here are a couple of photos and a video to tide you over until our next visit to the ranch. Or, if you're more into swappin' sayings like my grandpa, and are less akin/enchanted/obsessed with the word "ranch" like I am....here are a few photos and a video from our visit to the home place. Enjoy, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! ~April~


The Tale of Two Blogs

Hey everyone, I just thought I'd let you know about my new favorite blog. I have many. The one I just discovered, and have come to really enjoy reading is called "The Pioneer Woman." Check it out: http://thepioneerwoman.com/. Every time I read her blog, it reminds me of how much I want to live on a ranch when I am older. (P.S. Cowboys, feel free to leave comments...just kidding!) For now though, I'm loving life set amidst the beauty of the Texas Hill Country... it's a very special place! Speaking of special places, many are mentioned on another favorite blog of mine, the "Intelligent Travel Blog." You should check it out: http://blogs.nationalgeographic.com/intelligenttravel/.
Have a wonderful week! ~April~

To end this note, here is a quote: "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." ~St. Augustine~


A Creek, a Rose, and some Buffaloes

"There they are!" I squealed with excitement as our car approached a herd of buffaloes grazing not more than 20 yards from the road. I was 99.9% sure that I had seen some buffaloes the last time we drove this way. But there was still that .1% percent of uncertainty...until now.

"Oh, wow... you were right," my mom and dad said, with as far as I could detect, a hint of both awe and surprise in their voices.

That's what I love about Texas: it never ceases to amaze...whether your a cowboy-hat-totin' native or a cowboy-hat-totin' wannabe. Take the buffaloes for instance. Or the "lost maple" trees we saw when we went on our annual Fall hike at Lost Maples State Park later that day. Or the abundance of natural creeks and springs that can be found throughout the rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country. Anyway, you get what I'm saying. There is always something or someplace amazing just waiting to be discovered!

But, while there are many surprises, that still doesn't mean that all the stereotypes made about Texas are inaccurate. For instance, when your rose bush blooms for the first time since you planted it 2 years ago... it is a cause for celebration. In fact, keeping anything (humans included) alive throughout the summer (i.e. throughout the drought) is a cause for celebration.

So today, as with every day, I raise my camera to you, my dear Texas, my home...where the deer and the buffalo roam! And to you, my readers, I post my photos and videos! Enjoy! ~April~


First Fire of the Year!

Ahhh, there's nothing better than a campfire! Especially when that campfire is fueled by our Christmas tree from last year. Oh yeah...you get the picture! It was an amazing sight...and it was an amazing night. In addition to the fire, this past weekend we also celebrated my Mom's birthday. Let's just say that one great family mixed with one great campfire equals one great night of fun! I hope that y'all enjoy the video I took of our "first fire of the year." I decided not to post the one I got from when our Christmas tree was added. Too much screaming and squealing, if you know what I mean! Have a great day! ~April~


Winkle, Winkle, You're a Star

He's big. He's brown. His name is Bullwinkle (or, "Winkle" for short). And, as with all horses, he has a personality all his own. As though his status as a Hanoverian horse wasn't enough to grasp people's attention (Hanoverians are one of the biggest breeds in the horse world), Bullwinkle likes to employ numerous tactics in hopes of attracting attention. Some of these include "cribbing," or gnawing on his wooden stall, and also being very photogenic, as I found him this past Saturday when I last visited him at my riding instructor's barn. Don't you just want to reach out and pet him?

So, what were you doing from 7-9 tonight? If you are like me, you were probably watching Ken Burns' new PBS documentary series "The National Parks: America's Best Idea." I was awestruck by the cinematography, immersed in every historical account, and in agreement with every argument made. For those of you who might have missed it, or would like to learn more about the series, or about the National Parks, here is the link: http://www.pbs.org/nationalparks/. Just like the parks themselves, this documentary is something well worth seeing! Have a great week, ~April~


Sunset After the Storm

For the past couple of days, the hills out here in Lago have been blessed with some very-much-needed rain. It is such a relief to see cloudy skies and precipitation again! I dare say this means Fall is officially here. Here are a couple pictures I took of tonight's sunset. There was just enough open sky for the sun to peek through before descending behind the hills and leaving gorgeous hues of orange, pink and purple in its wake. Enjoy! ~April~


I Am a Dreamer!

Hey everyone, I thought I would share one of my new favorite songs with y'all! Click here to watch the music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Pym1N2Tmps. The artist's name is Bethany Dillon, and her song is called "Dreamer." I hope that y'all enjoy it as much as I do, and that it brings joy to your day! ~April~


Mary and Me

It's official. The Fall school semester has begun, and with that so have all the homework, presentation, and research paper assignments . You know, all those sheets of paper that, upon getting passed out in class, are met with a sound of silent despair (or, if you're not as quiet as me, audible despair). Yep, all that has begun! It's not that all class assignments are doomed or anything. To the contrary, sometimes they can be interesting, and just as I did today, you might end up making an interesting discovery about your subject that you might not have made if it weren't for that sheet of paper with the ominous due date marked in bold.

So today, I was doing some research on Mary of Bethany (not Mary, mother of Jesus) for my New Testament class. We all have to give a speech/presentation on the biblical character of our choosing (from the NT, of course), and I chose her. So when I stumbled upon this drawing of her (although, nobody knows for sure what she looked like, seeing as she lived around 2,000 years ago), I was reminded of a photo of myself taken not that long ago. I guess this assignment was just meant to be! Mary and Me, that is.


La La Land!

Just when you thought I was done traveling for the summer, I surprise you by jetting off to Los Angeles for a few days. Oh yeah, that's right...there's a new Samantha Brown in town! (Samantha Brown is a TV host for the Travel Channel...I like to watch her shows. You can check out all of her adventures here: http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Samantha_Brown) Unlike my other "adventure" this summer (to Washington), my Mom came with me on this trip. Now, I have officially been to all of the West coast states (with the exception of Alaska)! This was our first trip to La La Land (L.A.), and we were here to see my brother (we'll call him Trent), where he lives, and to check out the place he calls home.
Along the way, we saw and discovered some pretty cool parts of L.A.. From gawking at the palm trees lining Beverley Hills Blvd. to walking on the sandy shores of Santa Monica beach. From attending the symphony performance at the Hollywood Bowl to seeing Hollywood Blvd. (no stars, besides those on the sidewalk, were spotted). From strolling through booths of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables at a local Farmers Market to watching fish swim below a fountain at a hidden-gem of a park named after Will Rogers. From sipping coffee at the Coffee Bean cafe to cruising around in my brothers very sleek Porsche. You could say we have now been to and done L.A., but in reality (i.e. in a city with 21 million people), we've only skimmed the surface. Here are just a few of the photos that I took.

The Palm trees were as gorgeous as the houses they towered beside (or should it be the other way around?).

Two fish in a pond at Will Rogers Park.

Santa Monica Pier and Beach.

The Coffee Bean, and a tree that likes to lean.


There's No Place Like Home!

That is what Dorothy said on The Wizard of Oz...one of the rare snippets of TV I was able to watch while interning at Lavender Hill Farm for 3 1/2 weeks this summer. And now that I am home (I arrived 2 weeks ago), I couldn't agree with the girl in the red heels more. Oh man, did I miss home! No wonder why people write books... all the drama (both good and bad, funny and sad) that comes with traveling, meeting new people, living in a new place with the new people, and working rigourously day after day for the new people needs a place (or a person...thanks again Mom!) to be expressed. But, instead of harping on all those unforgettable parts of my internship (or, as I like to call it, my interntrip) that I hope to soon forget, I've decided to share some of the best parts of it...parts that I know will remain with me forever.

My first ride on a ferry, crossing Puget Sound, breathing pure-as-can-be air, and watching the sun set over the Olympic Mountains.

The tall Fir trees. This one couldn't even fit into my camera shot from 30 yards away!

Mt. Rainier (at sunset or any time of day).

Shopping at Pike's Place Market with Rosalie, Maya, and Riley. We bought some nectarines and bing cherries (they were so fresh, and so good), and some fashion accesories, but we opted out of having our fortunes told by a cat...I am not kidding!

The Space Needle and the view from the top. It was such an amazing, jaw dropping, 43-second elevator ride. Warning: 360 degree views of Seattle act as a very powerful magnetic force, and you will have a very hard time leaving the observation deck and taking the elevator back down.

Going biking...in style, of course!

Swimming and Sailing (for my first time) in Puget Sound.
Last, but certainly not least, the lavender. Who could forget!
In the end, this is the reminder I came away with from my internship...just in time for my Freshman year of college: In life, there will probably be some moments that we wish we could change, just as there will be moments (whether good or bad, funny or sad) that will shape who we are and who we are becoming. The most important thing we can do is to be open to those moments...to those learning opportunities, and to have faith, because as the Lord tells us in the Bible, "He knows the plans He has for us, plans to help us, not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future." And what could be more enocuraging and inspirational than that. Except for maybe that airline ticket that promised my return to a place I like to call home. Just kidding! ~April~

(P.S.) I just saw a preview for the TV (now that I'm back to watching TV) series "Jockeys." It looks sooo good...I hope to get to watch it (we don't have Animal Planet)! This will be the show's second season (1st episode will air on Aug. 21st at 9pm CT). Here is a link to a preview from Season 1 that I found on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoasX0I0Lgg&feature=PlayList&p=00B984A0F25FA014&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=1#watch-main-area
Let me know how it is, and also how your summer has been so far! Have a great day!


About the lack of posts...

Hey everyone, Sorry I've been AWOL. I will try to write and update my blog ASAP. Wow, using acronyms is sooo much fun! ~April~



Hi Everyone, I know it's been awhile since my last post, but I have a very good explanation....I'm in Washington (Vashon Island, Washington to be exact)! So, what happened between my last post and this post, you ask? Well, let's see, my decision to spend the second half of the summer working as an intern at a lavender farm on Vashon Island, a lot of planning and packing, a plane ride, a metro bus ride (a first for me), and a ferry ride (a second for me). In between all of that, I managed to take a few pictures, and I hope to take many more! Here are some of them.
The clouds from the plane:

The beach at the Fauntleroy Ferry dock (on the WA coast):

The sunset from the ferry with the Olympic Mountains far in the background:

The Olympic mountains (again). It was getting quite cold and breezy, but the view was beautiful:

A view of the lavender field at Lavender Hill Farm (where I'm interning at):

Well, it's getting late, and I see a nice, cozy bed calling my name. I have many more pictures to share, and many more pictures to take, so please check back, as I will try my hardest to update as often as possible. Have a great day! And if possible, try to see, smell, and pick some lavender this summer....you won't regret it. ~April~


Who let the cats out?

Fairly recently, we put in our first umbrella clothesline at my house. Both my mom and I have come to really enjoy it. And so have my two cats. You see, we put the clothesline right outside the back door from where they have their "Cat Condo" (aka the garage), so whenever we go out there to hang clothes, they love to lounge by the open door, peer outside, and feel the cool (or, since this is Texas, warm) breeze in their fur. But, seeing as how they have been indoor cats for the past 6 or 7 years, it makes sense that they have approached this new environment (the outdoors) very cautiously. That is why I was surprised to see Alexis (one of my cats) sitting on the back door step when I turned around from clothes pinning something.

She actually went out as far as 5 feet from her "condo". Now I guess I'll really have to keep an eye on her...my little "aventuradora" (adventurer)!

Some of you may be wondering "But, what if she decides to go another 5 feet, and another, until one day she has run away?" Let me just say, my dad doesn't call her "big butterball" for nothing...she loves her food, as you can probably tell from these pictures, and that among many other reasons is why I think that this is just her idea of having an "aventura" of her own.

Now, it wouldn't be fair to Montana, my other cat, to only mention Alexis (they're sisters). So, even though she still gazes outside, and has yet to step outside, here is a picture of my little (yes, that's the wrong adjective, but that's what makes it a nickname) "aventuradora" in training.

Have a great 4th of July! ~April~


A hike, you say...¡Oye!

Yesterday, we all (including my uncle, who was visiting from Colorado) went on a morning hike. Because it gets so hot here (it reached 106 degrees yesterday), about the only time you are able to enjoy being outside is either early in the morning or in the evening. Needless to say, it was very nice to be outside for more than ten minutes before feeling the magnetic-like pull of an air conditioned house tempting you inside!

It seemed as though the animals thought it was nice too. I tried to take some pictures of all the birds and the deer that we saw, but they all seemed to have an inkling, or "sixth sense," as I like to put it, about what I was doing, and didn't want any part in it. Here are some of the animals I was able to capture (with my camera, of course).

A cottontail rabbit:

A snake (anyone know what kind?):

My puppy Brittany got her first summer haircut yesterday. Isn't she a sweetheart!



Tonight, I stepped into my backyard to see...well, what I could see. Normally, I am in the backyard giving my puppy some attention, watering the garden, or refilling the bird feeder, but, while doing these things is important, I believe that it is equally important to stop "doing" things, and to instead just observe. "Observe?" you ask. "Observe what?" Well, that depends...it depends on what part of the country you live in, what season it is, even what time it is. But, no matter what, where, or when, one thing remains true: If you're like me, you will come away with a feeling of awe and inspiration. But, most importantly, you will be reminded that just as God has a hand in shaping this earth, He also has a hand in shaping us, and in shaping our lives. And after stepping into my backyard today, and seeing all that I could see, I am glad to be in His hands!

Our redbud tree:

The caterpillars think it looks good...good enough to eat:

The sunset tonight (beautiful, as always):


Stop and Smell the Roses

Today, my mom and I went to Whole Foods (an organic market) for the first time in probably a year. And wow, was everything beautiful! There were all sorts of colorful produce and products there, but nothing beat the freshly-cut flowers they offered. So, what is my favorite flower, you ask? It is actually a tie between hydrangeas and lavender, but today, I think all of them were my favorites. As with all of my "aventuras" this summer, I look forward to stopping and smelling the roses (or hydrangeas, lavender, etc.), and with such a beautiful summer ahead of us, I hope you do too!