Little Acts of Kindness, Great Miracles 

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein 

As I am starting to pack up my Austin life and prepare to move back to San Antonio, I can’t thank God enough for this miracle. Last night, while packing a few things, I was watching the movie, Miracles From Heaven. Oh man, I sure did cry my eyes out watching this movie! Every once in a while I’ve gotten pretty personal in my writings for y’all. So I’m just going to dive right in.

I’ve also been the type of person that tries to see everything as though it were a miracle, blessing, the brighter side of things, the beauty of life. Why? Because there’s already so much terrible sadness darkness, and negativity out there. I’ve seen it consume loved ones and turn them cold and hateful with everything. 

There are tragedies, recent and in the past that can’t be sugar coated. People lives cut short, caught in the crossfire of hate. Turn on the news and it’s another terrorist attack, police brutality, or even police being attacked. Why? Because again people get consumed and obsess over the hate with rage and try to instill it in others. Disrupting peace, acceptance, and ultimately taking away a someone’s life. 

I’ve experienced the good and bad spectrum of police. I’ve written about the nightmare of 10 years of living with a cops as a step-father. It blows my mind that 10 years later he’s even more racist, deceitful, hateful and manipulative with his own children. My heartbreaks for my Mom and my Brother and Sisters. I would think after 10 years, a decade has passed since my mom and her ex-husband divorced, my brother now an adult starting his career, and my sisters in high school, their dad would find so peace, but 10 years later we’re back in court. 

When I was in high school there was an incident with tourists brutally beaten, when my brother and sisters’s dad was still a police officer. I remember hearing him and his partner strategically writing their reports to put all fault on the victims. The crazy thing, he was only excited to be on the news, even though it was bad national publicity. So yes, I know some police officers abuse their badges, but there are just as many, if not more good officers. 

Like the officers that helped my mom and I when we needed to be protected. The officers that have pulled over, and helped with a flat tire change in the rain. Most are truly caring and good. 

Towards the end of Miracles From Heaven, they reveal a bunch of little acts of kinds that helped this family with a very ill daughter. I can’t help but be incredibly great full for the time I’ve spent and family of friends I’ve made in Austin. 

Friends that take the time to see how my family and are doing. Strangers that have helped me with car troubles. Friends that have helped me with car troubles. Yes, I have a lot of car troubles, which is probably why my dad is my dad and thank God he’s also a mechanic. People that support and encourage me to keep my head up. Most of the time I am super stressed with work, my car, my family and trying to get this move going but if I dwelled on all the stressful things I’d be miserable! You never know, your little act of kindness, can be a great miracle for someone else.

Texas Texas: Don Chelada Micheladas 

Oh sweet summertime! Anyone else love sitting by the pool with a delicious michelada?

Back at the beginning of summer, a friend of mine had a pool party to celebrate Cinco De Mayo. We grilled some fajitas, and had some tequila, but the highlight of our day was some Don Chelada Micheladas!  

The Texas based company, sent me some of their products for taste testing. So of course I love trying Texas made goodies! I decided to take it all to that Cinco De Mayo Celebration and they were a delicious hit. The cups are so easy and convenient to use. Just open, take out the dry mix package, pour in 24oz of your beer of choice (we used Dos XX and Lonestar,) then stir in the dry mix and it’s ready to drink up and enjoy. The styro cups come in three different flavors: Original, Spicy, and my favorite is Lemon Lime. Oh and pardon my drool, the rims of the cups are already moist and covered with a tangy chile powder salt, that’s lip puckering delicioso!

Now they also have a mouth watering ready-made bottle Michelada mix. Since we were at the pool, I decided to hollow out a few pineapples into giant cups. Flip them over, to salt the rim with a chile lime seasoning. Then filled with ice 6 oz of Don Chelada Michelada mix, and poured in 24 oz of Dos XX. Last, squeezed half a small lime inside, stir and let sit for about 10 minutes. Pineapple bliss in every sip.

Amazing mix and cups. My friends and I can’t wait to order more summer river floating trips! You find more information about where to find or how to order their cups and mix on the Don Chelada website. 

Spurs Fan Fashion

It’s NBA playoffs time, so that means I’m usually reppin the Spurs pretty much every day. How can I do that every day you ask? By getting creative and mixing and matching all the tops and bottoms below! A big thanks to R.G. TZ & Tanks for creating my favorite fiesta colored Spurs shirts with the San Antonio city Skyline!

mix & match

twinkies with your pals

Southtown run around

glam it up for brunch at The Historic Pearl

a little something extra

office Spurs fun

Texas Forever

Championshion Riverwalk run


shopping and errands

Taste Texas: Austin: Lamberts Downtown BBQ: Sunday Brunch edition 

Sunday brunch plans in Austin? One of my favorite brunches to splurge on is Lamberts Downtown BBQ! Texas BBQ Sunday brunch dreams do come true! 

  

For my birthday, this year, I asked a few friends to join me for brunch at Lamberts. I made reservations and they had our table ready when we arrived. It was right after mass so mostly everyone was running late. 

  

We sat down and looked over the menu and decided to order some mimosas and wait for the others. I thought we could order from the single plates from the menu and opt out of the buffet. Turned out that was not the case. $40 brunch buffet for each person that would be eating. Ouch kind of pricey. Good thing mimosas were about $3. 

  

Well it was definitely worth it! We got to try everything and it was all mouth watering delicious. They have sides, jicama and cilantro slaw, house smoked gravlox salmon, cheddar and roasted poblano grits and so much more. The deviled eggs were amazing and I don’t even like deviled eggs. 

  

You can get freshly sliced, brown sugar & coffee rubbed brisket, and Coriander and maple crusted Berkshire pork ribs, roasted garlic & rosemary prime ribs from the butcher block. Don’t forget to grab a big scoop of my favorite, Lamberts baked mac & cheese. Those are just the get up and fill your plate yourself options. There’s still more on the menu!

  

The second half of the menu needs to be ordered from the kitchen and it is divine! My first choice is the breakfast Frito pie, chopped beef, queso, chèvre, pico de gallo, and a poached egg! How can anyone say no to that? There’s a few different omelettes, eggs Benedict, hash, and biscuits and gravy variations. If you have a group of people I recommend ordering at least one of each and trying a few bites. 

  

 
Mostly everything is juicy and savory, but what about sweets? The Brioche French Toast with its strawberry butter is also a must. Ladies wear a loosely fitted dress, because there’s still a dessert table, and you’ll want to have room for all those as well! 

  

  

Zilker Kite Festival: 5 Tips for a flying good time

Who doesn’t love to fly kites? I used to always get mine caught in my grandma’s trees. Now Zilker, with it’s wide open field, it’s perfect for a kite flying good time. Last year was my first year attending. The 2014 festival ended up being cancelled due to bad weather conditions, so I was super excited to it wasn’t canceled last year. However, the weather was super cold and drizzly. Oh well, I made the most of it and still had a blast. Since the weather is supposed to even better this year, I put together a few tips to help y’all avoid any headaches and have as much fun as possible! 
  

1. Walk, run, bike, Lyft, Uber try them all. I highly don’t recommend driving and trying to find parking, especially with all the construction on South Lamar and Mopac. Save yourself the headache and enjoy the day.

  

2. No kite, no problem! Last year I got a little stressed out looking for a decent priced kite. Since I live in the Zilker neighborhood I went to stores nearby and kites were so expensive! I ended up finding this little gem at Hobby Lobby for about $12. Anyway, check out their DIY kite resources or get there early and a lot of vendors have supplies. Follow their quick simple instructions and watch your kite sore! Their kites flew way better than mine, that I ended up making one too.
  

3. Look down. Hahaha it’s so hard to take your eyes off the beautiful site, but don’t forget to look down and around you every once in awhile to avoid tripping over or getting tangled up with your fellow kite watchers.

  

4. Cash or plastic. Food trucks and vendors everywhere. Most are equipped with technology to process your cards, but occasionally some may have technical difficulties. So I reccomend taking at least $10 cash with you.

  

5. Stay cozy. Take a light blanket for sitting or for bundling up, if the weather ends up being cold like last year.  

  

Most of all have FUN! 

Target Gift Card Giveaway

It’s not Target Tuesday but I couldn’t wait to show y’all a couple of the Holiday festive finds I brought home the other day.  And I have a $200 Target Gift Card Giveaway going on…details are on the Target Gift Card Giveaway page above or here

1. Ugly sweater kit:

This is awesome! turned a $4 sweater from Savers to the best ugly Christmas sweater! I actually won the ugly Christmas sweater contest at work.

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2. Christmas Pajamas:

Need I say more? Every year my cousin and I exchange Christmas pajamas or slippers, so this was perfect! Even got some extra for myself!

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3. Doggy Christmas sweaters:

What’s more festive than a month tacky ugly Christmas Sweater? A doggy Christmas sweater! Oh my heart melts! Here Targer take my money!!

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Holiday Feasting:  Bacon, Pecans, & Blue Cheese Green Beans

Howdy y’all

First up on my Holdiay Feasting series of blog recipes is my favorite way to enjoy green beans. A few years ago I played around with a few recipes for green beans casseroles and created this deliciousness treat that has now become a traditional dish with my family. Seriously, bacon, pecans, and blue cheese! I had myself at bacon! This recipe is simple and relatively quick leaving more time for other recipes or the reason for this joyous holiday. Celebrating all that we are thankful for with our loved ones. 

Ingredients:

– 1 lb fresh green beans 

– 4 slices of bacon 

– 3/4 cup of blue cheese crumbles 

– 1/3 cup chopped pecans

– 2 cups of ice

Directions: 

  • Chop stems of green beans
  • Boil green beans
  • Fry bacon to extra crispy 
  • Drain green beans and shock in ice bath until completely cooled
  • Drain green beans and pat dry
  • Toss in pan with bacon grease 
  • Add blue cheese crumbles and allow to melt
  • Last stir in chopped pecans and bacon

Quick, simple, and delicious. 

 
 
 
   
  

Enjoy, 

Sydney Charming 

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2015: A #BrosBeingBasic ACL Survival Guide

You read that title right! Yep. I’ve been attending the music festival for the past few years. Since I’ve moved to Austin and live just about a mile from Zilker, I usually have friends stay with me. It’s usually some of my guy friends, cause they don’t mind crashing on the couch with my dog.


Well I’ve always prided myself on being a little unique, and definitely dance to the beat of my own heart. Never really thought I’d fall into a basic category and same with my friends. I was even bold enough to purchase this sweater and couldn’t wait until cooler weather to wear it.

Turns out I have a nothing but #BrosBeingBasic friends! (Smh! This sweater is now going up for sale.) Here’s our guide to surviving ACL ..

You’re in Austin, Texas! Start the day with Brunch!!


Don’t forget the main point of brunch…Mimosas! Everyone order different flavors so you can try all of them. Sip, Sip, Pass.


Ask for straws because betches love straws


If you don’t Snapchat it, it didn’t happen


Group photo Cheers!


Mouth open/more surprised face Selfies before chugging to get to ACL


OMG! Instagram tiny adorable desserts with a surprised expression


Essentials: Wristband ticket, Flower crowns, Flash Tattoos, Phone, Portable Charges, Trendy Sunblock, Eco-Friendly Water bottle, Sunnies, cute comfyshoes (ditch those boots with wedges or heels you know you’re going to be in those all day and will end up taking them off then step in puke…now that’s not basic that’s just rachet), and cute or vintage but probably new backpack.


Check for new Snap Chat filters upon arrival…”Selfie…ready strike a pose”


Scope out the perfect Insta pic and #NoFilter


#Squad Before photo


You can never have enough Flash Tatts!!!!


Facebook Check-in


Oh yeah if you have time between selfies listen to a band


If you don’t wear a flower crown don’t forget your fall colored felt floppy hat


Listen to that band that plays your favorite song on the radio. (Walk The Moon)


Wait about an hour for this spectacular gigantic frame to take the perfect iconic ACL Fest picture #FeelTheGoodVibes


Take selfies while you’re board waiting for the Headliners to start


Sing-a-long at the top of your lungs between chugging on your craft beer


Don’t separate from your friends, because when those brunch mimosas and dehydration kicks in, and let’s be honest, ‘pacing yourself’ went out the door after the first mimosa, they’ll be there to take pictures #canthang #basic

Good Luck,

Sydney Charming and #BrosBeingBasic

Taste New Orleans: Day 2

Catching up on some sleep was nice, but there’s so much to explore! Up and at ’em, rise and shine, wakey wakey or whatever cheese morning phrase you’d like to insert. For me, but first coffee. Jesse set an alarm so we could wake up early enough to make a run over to Cafe Du Monde. This  was by far my favorite day of the whole trip.

9:30am we were dress for the day and walking through the lobby to start exploring for the day. We passed Quang who also happened to be wearing a fedora, so I yelled across the lobby “hey, one fedora per crew.” Yep that line from Workaholics, but no one watches it, so I was the only one laughing. He was getting back from an early morning run around the town. Our day 2 adventure was just beging. As we made our way, we passed so many people dressed in white and red that just finished up Running with the Bulls. It was about a 15- 20 minute walk from our hotel, when we arrived at the famous Cafe Du Monde.

Photo Credit: Quang Tran

Whoa the line was so long! Jess estimated it was about an hour and a half to two hour wait to be seated at a table. We double checked our schedule and noticed the steamboat we were going on for lunch boards an hour earlier than we thought at 11am. It would have been a tight squeeze but then Jess remember there was a take-out line that would probably be shorter. She walked around and found it while I was waiting in line. Sure enough, there it was take-out and cash only. I scurried on over and it took about 15-20 minutes. Got an iced Café Au Lait and an order of fresh hot beignets.

We decided to cross the street to Jackson Square, sit on a park bench and enjoy the scenery, while we indulged in our beignets. Our plan was to tour St. Louis Cathedral, before we had to meet the rest of our group at the Nachetz steamboat, for our jazz cruise on the Mississippi River. I didn’t realize how messy eating powdery beignets could be on a warm windy July morning. Powder sugar everywhere! Finishing up and cleaning off, we had to go straight to the boat to board.

We definitely didn’t get the memo, to arrive extra early because people were already boarding and there was still a very long line. We took turns, one of us standing in line, while the other checked-in and picked up their ticket from the ticket office. Thank goodness it was located right in front of the boat’s loading dock. The rest of our group met us in the dinning room. We purchased lunch with our tickets, and indulged in delicious fried catfish, red beans and rice, and mashed potatoes with brown gravy. Our host, Gina, was phenomenal! She gave us plenty of good tips for the rest our trip, and helped the birthday girl celebrate.

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

After we finished eating, we explored the boat, listen to some live jazz music up top, and relaxed. We went back to the dinning room to escape the heat towards the end of the cruise. Some of us decided to head back to the hotel, to get some sun around the pool. Three of us decided to stay out exploring. One of my friends, that had been to New Orleans, suggested to check out Magazine Street. I told the other two about it, and did a quick google search and were set. Before we got off the boat, we decided to sit back and wait until majority of the people got off. After a about 20 minutes, we made our way off.

We made our way off to a bizarre sight. A train had stopped blocking everyone from leaving the dock area and crossing back into the French Quarter. People were actually climbing the stopped carts and crossing to the other side. We waited about 15-20 minutes and it finally got started moving and cleared the way.

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Next, we hopped on a bus and took about a 15 minute ride to Magazine Street. While were on the bus, a young hipster couple gave us a few recommendations. So much to see and taste! We wondered into a costume and vintage store called Funky Monkey. Goofed around trying on silly hats and picking out some funky outfits. We spotted a Buffalo Exchange, and came to the conclusion, that we’d lookup all their locations to find all the hipster city destinations.

After browsing and wonder through a few more stores and art shops we found this place called Balcony Bar. The couple from the bus recommend it. Thank goodness there was Air Conditioner! We were sun drenched and needed to cool off. We made our way upstairs to sit on the balcony, but realized there wouldn’t be air conditioner out there. So we decided to take a seat a the bar up stairs. To our surprise, they had pretty much all local brews on tap. We had them pour us up a round, and we got to talking. Before we knew it about an hour and a half of pretty deep heart-to-heart conversations passed between the three of us. Then we realized we needed to get back to the French Quarter for our Haunted Tour

A little frantic, scurrying and we found our bus back, and made it just in time for the tour to start. The rest of our group already made it there. We did the 4-in-1 Witches, Ghost, Vampires & Voodoo Walking Tour by Witches Brew Tours. I highly recommend them, and if you can get the tour guide that goes by the name Skip. He was pretty fantastic! A little different approach, very honest, real, and threw in some interesting history behind the places we visited. See if you can spot any ghostly images in the pictures I took. Some of the stories included, having dinner with a ghost, a captain haunting a balcony, Jacques Saint Germaine the vampire, Marie Laveau, and Madame LaLaurie.

By the time our tour ended, we realized we had to get back to the hotel ASAP to get ready for the Birthday dinner. Then, with a little more re-evaluating our situation, looking at a GPS, and Uber prices we realized, we could just walk to the restaurant and get there early. A few decided to run back, yeah I’m not that athletic, and stayed with the group that walked to the restaurant.

The reservations were for Cafe Amelie. Since we were about 45 minutes early, we decided to find a coffee shop near by. Well, we didn’t have to go far at all. Next door, is Petite Amelie. Coffee, Wine, beer, breakfast, brunch, and lunch. I guess quick casual gourmet meals, or as they say, “cuisine rapide.” They have the best gumbo!!! (It’s also the same gumbo from Cafe Amelie

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

We checked in for our reservation, and our table was ready. Dinner in the famous romantic courtyard. Everyone that was back at our hotel eventually arrived. Everyone order a different glass of wine and we had our own wine tasting fun. I ordered the Two Run Farms Lamb Meatloaf: cucumber tomatoe salad with tzatziki on brioche. Delicious! Great flavor and portion size. Enough to make you full but not too much that you’ll have to get a to-go box.

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Über back to our hotel to shower and change for another night out on the town. A little bit of drama with who, what, when and where we were going but cleared up and headed to Frenchmen Street. On our ghost tour, Skip, told us of a terrifying legend. The Axe Man, apparently was a serial killer, hacking whole households throughout New Orleans. He wrote a note to the city Newspaper saying that he liked jazz music. Gave a time of 12:15pm with a warning that as he was passing through the city, if he strolled passed a house hold not playing jazz music at 12:15am, he would murder them. So back to our night out on Frenchmen Street. We made sure we were listening to jazz music at 12:15AM. Had a blast hopping from bar-to-bar dancing and goofing around everywhere we went.Towards the end of the night, we decided to head to the casino, Harrahs.

We split into two Ubers, and our’s arrived first. Walked in, for my first time ever in a casino! It was vibrant, noise and fun. We headed to the middle of the casino, where there was a dance floor and Dj. The rest of our friends arrived and we continued to dance the night away. I think we got back to our hotel around 4 AM. Very long and amazing day exploring New Orleans.

This mini vacations was definitely an experience to remember. Traveling with big group that had a vast array of personalities was very interesting. I learned more about myself and the way I handle situations with different personality types. Put those communication skills to work. As I’m getting older, I still use the Golden Rule, but I learned occasionally to get things done or for your own peace of mind, you just have to be direct, honest and not worry if you move forward with or without everyone. Anyone else ever have a vacation go exactly as planned? We all know that’s a rare beauty! Stay tuned for Day 3’s bizarre turn of events that made me really sit back and think about common courtesy, being an adult, and all the crazy racism finger pointing that’s been the media’s lasted two news frenzy. Below are some more pictures from Day 2 and for more information on all the fun places we went, I posted blue links throughout the article.

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit : Quang Tran

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Photo Credit: Jessica Davis

Taste: New Orleans, Louisiana: Day One

An early out of work on a Thursday afternoon, a drive home to toss my suitcase in my car, a drive to Houston and then I was finally on the bus. New Orleans, Louisiana bound! Yep, I was a first timer and so exited. One of my best friends from college, Trish, planned the whole trip to celebrate her birthday.

The bus ride, oh the midnight bus ride. Trish arranged for me to travel with two of her friends. I don’t recommend taking a bus. It was crowded, someone smoked weed in the bathroom, people were not shy to invade the little personal space you have and someone got kicked off for smoking on the bus. Definitely didn’t sleep, but we made it to New Orleans just before 7 am.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency, which happened to be around the corner from the bus and train station. Checked-in, and unpacked a little bit. I was rooming with our friend Jessica, who was flying in later, from Chicago. Took about an hour nap, then up and running out to the front drive to catch our Uber to our 9:30am 10 miles historical bike ride tour.

Whew! It got humid! The ride was was nice and pretty cool to learn and see some history outside of the French Quarter. This time it was Trish, her brothers and I. We used Bullfrog Bike Tours and I highly recommend them. Our guide was nice, funny, and knowledgable. We used their special for 4 or more that’s a %15 discount. (With as much as we did every penny counts.) We made our way starting in the French Quarter, then toward the Mississippi River , down Esplanade Avenue, and took a break at Morning Call by the Botanical Gardens. Mhmm! Snacked on some beignets and ice cream. Some where along the way we went through St. Louis cemetery 3, Louie Armstrong Park, and some other historical areas most people don’t get to see if they don’t venture beyond the French Quarter.

After that long bike ride, you would think we’d get back and nap right? Nope! Team No Sleep back in action. When we arrived back at the hotel and two more joined in on the party. Our friends Darvin and Jess arrived. A quick shower off, change of clothes and on a to a shuttle bus we went. Bayou bound for our swamp tour. We went with Cajun Pride Swamp Tours. Trish found a groupon about a month before. Their shuttle bus picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel. This was probably one of my favorite activities we did.

Gators, gators, gators, alligators galore! Never have I ever seen so many alligators at once. I also didn’t know how much alligators liked marshmallows! I even got to hold a 3 year old gator. How tiny right? Can you imagine how old those bigger one in the pictures must be? I think the tour last about 2 hours. Back at the dock you can buy food (try the alligator on a stick), drinks (they have adult beverages too…party don’t stop) and souvenirs. I was so surprised I didn’t get any mosquito bites!

I took a nap on the bus ride back, actually almost everyone took a nap on the ride back. Another shower and I was dolled up and ready for a late dinner. Of course, we had dinner at the original Pat O’Briens on Bourbon Street. There was about a 45 minute wait which wasn’t too bad for a Friday night and a group of 10. I split a plate of Alligator Bites and a plate of Crawfish Étouffée with one of my friends. Pretty good amount of food, but super salty.

After dinner we ventured around the foul smelling Bourbon Street. My very first time, and maybe I’m too old for it or I was exhausted (only slept 2 hours in the past 48 hours) or a combination of both. It was like the dirtiest part of dirty 6th street on steroids. Apparently you can walk around with your drinks in to go cups. No wonder it smelled so bad, all those sugary drinks spilling everywhere over time. Whew! Every corner there were these pizza and slushy shops, that had different flavored adult slushy beverages. Also, Jell-O shots. Every time we walked down a block my friends went in and had one. I was ready for bed.

Some how we all split up on the way back to the hotel. A few of us walked, a few of us took an uber, and one of us ended up at Cafe Du Monde! Unfortunately I was not the one that went to Cafe du Monde. However, that person did bring some beignets back for all of us to munch on. And that ends day one in New Orleans. Day two coming up next.

view from Hyatt Regency

10 mile bike ride here we come


  

Jackson Square

random art

this is how they marked the houses after hurricane Katrina

our tour guide

  

St. Louis Cemetery 3

they told me to hold his hand


  

Morning Call beignets