San Antonio| The Saga | San Fernando Cathedral 

It’s Downtown Tuesday in San Antonio today and I’m sharing one of my favorite downtown sights with y’all. On pretty much any weekend night and Tuesdays, in the Main Plaza of the San Fernando Cathedral, you’ll stumble upon a crowd gathered to view a video art installation on the Cathedral. There’s always amazing things to do in this city. San Antonio The Saga is a beautiful must for residents and tourists, and it’s free!

  

  

Created by artist Xavier de Richemont, you will see his interpretation of the history of San Antonio and Texas. This show has been projecting on the Cathedral front since 2014. It shows every Tuesday, and weekend nights. Runs almost half an hour long, with start times of: 9 PM, 9:30 PM, and 10 PM. Again, this is one of my San Antonio favorites, and anytime I’m downtown around the show times, I’m there. So if you’re downtown on one of these days go check it out! 

XOXO,

Sydney Charming 

Taste Texas: Castroville: Haby’s Alsatian Bakery

A deliciously delightful Texas must stop, Alsatian bakery on the drive home. I’ve mention plenty of times before that I am from the city of San Antonio, but my Mom’s family’s hometown is D’Hanis, Texas. Located slightly southwest of San Antonio, a beautiful Texas country side drive down Highway 90. 

 Some thing else I may not have mention, I went to elementary school outside of the city, in the first charming small town going down 90, Castroville. St. Louis Catholic School, now we’re talkin’ real small town, schooling. When I attended, there was only about 100 kids in the entire school. So one class of about 15 to maybe 20 students for each grade level. Yep, I had the same classmates every year. Well, one of my favorite Texas bakeries, was just down the street and around the corner from my school. (Actually, everything in this town is basically down the street and around the corner.) 

    

Last week my Mom and I were driving through town and stopped by. We ended up sparking a petty good conversation with the friendly staff and customers. “The meat market down the street, Dzuiks, how do you pronounce the name?” Everyone pronounced it differently. “The ‘D’ is silent.” “No, the ‘Z’ is silent.” “I’ve always pronounced it with a ‘J’ sound.” I guess next time I’m passing through I’ll have to stop by for some deer jerky and ask the staff. 

 Haby’s Alsatian Bakery! Castroville is a French-Alsatian settled town. Founded by Henri Castro, in 1844. A lot of the original settlers from Alsace, influence is still visible today. Haby’s has an assortment of fresh baked pastries. So delicious, light, fluffy, and sweet. They also bake cakes for every occasion. Oh, the oatmeal raisin cookiesare my favorite! 

 

A Family Tradition: Quinceañera

I remember turning 14 and my mom asking me if I wanted to have a quinceanera. (These extravagant birthday parties take about a whole year in advance of planning.) “No thank you,” I replied. I was a really shy kid. A crowd of people watching me attempt a dance. Nope.

 One of my cousin’s recently had her Quinceanera in our family’s hometown of D’Hanis, Texas. Emily has grown into a beautiful lovely young lady. I remember there was quite a big scare when she was born. Her mother is my second cousin. (It’s weird cause she looks much like my mom but she’s family so that makes sense.) Anyway, my cousin Donna went into labor at just a mere 25 weeks of pregnancy. I remember Emily was so tiny. There was neonatal experts taking care of her.

 She made it through and now she’s 15 years old! I’m not really close with her but a birthday celebration is a huge milestone and it was amazing to see who she has become.

 She was surrounded by her parents, and school friends. She still seems kind of quiet and shy, just like I was.   Quinceaneras usually have a Mass at church, then a dinner followed by a waltz and then a dance for everyone to join in. While the finally set ups for the dinner were taking place we were entertained by some mariachis and a little dancing. I had to leave before the dance to get back up to Austin but again. I love getting celebrate and see how lovely of a little lady Emily has grown into. 

Taste Texas: San Antonio: Casa Rio

It’s the Riverwalk. It’s family. It’s delicious Tex-Mex food. It’s tradition. What else do you think of when you hear someone mention San Antonio’s Casa Rio? 

My mouth waters, my stomach hungrily grumbles, I feel all warm and fuzzy and I think of the countless memories eating there with my family.  I’ve mostly eaten on the patio, so I picture those iconic vibrantly colored table umbrellas along the river walk. Centrally located, it’s so easy to find. Commerce, “you know right by that big red sculptor, but go down stairs along the Riverwalk.”  If you’re from San Antonio you probably given directions like this.  My grandma and I usually order the Regular plate: “A Favorite Since 1946 – Cheese enchilada, tamale, chili con carne, mexican rice, and refried beans.” Did you read that? Do you see the picture? It’s so much food! Oh glorious Tex-Mex food!

The restaurant was established in 1946. Making this one of the oldest restaurant and businesses on the Riverwalk. They host private events and with their historic space and catering. They even have river barge dinners. Next time your on the Riverwalk of San Antonio, stop by enjoy the atmosphere with some delicious San Antonio Tex-Mex and maybe a margarita while the mariachis serenade you.  

Visit Casa Rio

The Fear of Falling Apart

For the past few months I’ve been struggling with some health issues. Recently, I think a little depression has been added into the mix because of how overwhelming everything has been. I’m so thankful for my friend being there, every step of the way.

We’ve been through a lot of unfortunate events, in a very small amount of time together. I’m talking about Murphy’s Law in full overdrive effect. We’ve also had some little accomplishments, definitely worth celebrating. We don’t live in the same city, but we’re not too far from each other. Through all these struggles, my friend has managed to at least call me everyday. Sometimes to ask how I am doing, sometime to tell me what they are going through, and sometimes just to talk. Occasionally, one of us will make the drive, or will both meet somewhere in the middle. We’ve become best friends and each other’s other half, helping each other with anything and everything from work, friends and family, to should I take a nap? But how much is too much? When a promise is made, to what extent should the promise be upheld?
A traumatizing event made me latch on to my dear friend even more, because they promised they’d be there through everything. For a moment, they were gone and everything went wrong. Well I guess, nothing went as planned and I was alone. I couldn’t get the experience out of my mind. I wanted to recover, but every time I would talk to my friend, they just didn’t understand and it made me feel even more alone. I began to be consumed with bitterness and anger. I desperately wanted to be comforted by my friend, but every time I was around them or even spoke to them I was taken back to that hurt and pain and the fact that they weren’t physically there to help me. Even after a good day, talking to them, I felt watery eyed and heavy. As if I had an anchor pulling me down a bottomless ocean.
Scrolling through some old pictures, I came across a video clip of, This is Gospel by Panic at the Disco, from The Gospel Tour. (Yes, I went to that concert. Definitely a blast from the high school past but still loved it!) I looked up the lyrics:

This is gospel for the fallen ones
Locked away in permanent slumber
Assembling their philosophies
From pieces of broken memories

If you love me let me go
If you love me let me go
‘Cause these words are knives that often leave scars
The fear of falling apart
And truth be told, I never was yours
The fear, the fear of falling apart
Don’t try to sleep through the end of the world
And bury me alive
‘Cause I won’t give up without a fight

Reading that and listening to the song once again, I thought I need space. I thought I just need time away without communication from my friend, so that I can start to heal. It was like I was taking one step forward and two steps back. Just not going anywhere. I thought make a jump that will help me run out of that toxic dance.  Or back to my other analogy, let go of the anchor so I can float back up myself.
Crazy thing, a few days to clear my head, and I love how God unveils himself in front of me. I came across this article : 10 Things NOT to Say to Someone Fighting Depression . Now I’m not trying to harm myself or anyone. I just feel sad, even though there’s some pretty spectacular things happening around me. Some of the key things the author mentioned caught my attention.

 “Telling someone happiness is a choice just isn’t true. In fact, if we skip passed our pain and grief, we miss out on an opportunity for God to comfort us.”


“Stop putting the pressure on yourself for something only God can achieve. Depression is too big to battle alone. God will give us more than we can handle, but He’ll never ask us to handle it alone. Yes, you can start exercising and eating better and making new friends and all of these things might help for a moment, but they won’t heal the root problem. You need Jesus. He’s the only thing that sustains.”


Right there in that last part, I realized I was putting way to much pressure and expectations on just one person. I am so grateful for my friend even helping as much as they have. Now I realize, what I should have know all along, God is with me. I am not alone and have never been alone. The times I broke down in tears, the anger, the sadness, he’s been there. I just wasn’t listening. Something I’ve written about plenty of times, that God is always with us, His Spirit is in us, and completely lost sight of that. Yesterday’s mass readings, actually made my happily laugh a little (1 John 3:18- 24) : 

Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.
Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth
and reassure our hearts before him
in whatever our hearts condemn,
for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God
and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.


As if God, was like are you hearing me now! I am here with you, I will help you through this. And just for some extra reassurance listen to this Gospel reading next (John 15: 1- 8) :

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,


I hope that my friend can forgive me for expecting so much from them. I’m still getting better and I know one day this will just be another hill or mountain I’ve climbed. I know that I’m almost there and when I reach the top all the things that terrified me will just make the view so much more spectacular.

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Taste Texas: Austin: Hillside Farmacy

Brunch, it’s just what we do nowadays. Sleep in a little but not too late. Just late enough so that we should call it breakfast. Meet some good friends to catch up and take Instagram pictures of the mouth watering breakfast/lunch infusing meals we call brunch. Yay! Sunday funday!

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One of my favorite places to go for brunch in all of Austin is Hillside Farmacy. Located on East 11th street. Brunch goers paradise. Everything quaint. Outside beautifully painted mural on the walls and few tables and chairs along the front patio. Inside, bookcases line some of the walls with sauces, wine and antique looking bottles, still reflecting the pharmacy image. Order a craft of mimosas and it’s usually brought out in an Erlenmeyer Flasks. Every inch from outside to inside, Insta- worthy.

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Now on to the food! Oh deliciously comforting food. My hands down favorite dish to order is the Mac & Cheese. Perfectly slightly sharp yet still creamy comforting. I usually add pancetta and a poached egg for a little extra fee. Absolutely worth it. I’ve had a few different sandwiches, all tastebud invigorating. The BLT benny, also perfection. Oh hollandaise, making brunch goers “le sigh” with delightful bliss.

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Hey, where have you been Sydney?

I am about a month and a half behind on posting all the articles I’ve written for y’all be cause I’ve been stressing. My work contract ends today, March 26, 2015. Well, get ready for some delightfully delicious, faith and Texas inspiring reading because I just signed the offer to work directly with the company I’ve been contracted with for the last year.

Five years ago, if you asked where I’d be in five years or what’s my five year plan, I never in my wildest dreams thought I be right here. I would have told you “still in medical school, probably just starting residency.” Or Working with autistic children. Of course life doesn’t always happen the way you plan or want it to.

I left undergrad school, with a pretty decent GPA, and MCAT score and just a year left to finish. Starting to look into medical schools. Why did I leave? My family needed me. Faith, family, and food that’s me. My mom was going through a terrible divorce that lasted almost 4 years. I’ve written about her ex-husband, that horrid nightmare, here. My brother and sisters were about 12, 10, and the youngest 7 years old. I moved back home, helping with school pick-ups, drop offs, finances, parenting and still working at the golf course. Eventually shifting my goals to business banking and working my way up.

Summing up the last few years, my family was able to overcome our hardships and move forward. Now what to do, go back to school? I lost that desire for medical school. I guess move to a different city? My friend, Jack, directed me to a contracting job for a pretty big tech company. I was hesitant, told him, I don’t know anything about tech stuff but he assured me that I would do well because I understood the business aspect of companies from working in business banking.

Alright, said a prayer and took that leap of faith.

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So for the last year, I’ve pretty much been competing for my job with other contractors. Now this company is located in Austin, and so many people living in the city and working for this company embrace the “Keep Austin weird” culture and strive to be unique and different from anyone else.

Let’s face it, come on, come in close, group hug, they’re actually all the same. Shocking! I’ve met some really nice and interesting people. Then I met a just a ton of one uppers and realized how little patients I have some times. Jack, was right. I was able to succeed because of my business knowledge and hard work. I also stayed true to myself. Always keeping in mind to stay balanced with the exciting innovations and remembering the business needs.

Finding balance is what I was born to do. Seriously, my mom is Catholic and my dad is Buddhist. Obviously their marriage didn’t workout but growing up I learned a lot of traditions, had culture overload, strong Catholic faith and also learned to always take a step back. Look at the paths behind me, see the possible paths ahead of me, trust in God so that which ever step I take forward he’s right there with me leading me to where I should be.

How do you shine in a crowd of unique individuals lusting to outshine everyone else? Know yourself, hold on to the traditions and culture you’ve always known. Be open minded and acknowledging of different. Balance and you’ll surely emit an incandescent glow shining brighter than the rest.

Peak Fitness: Workouts for gym or home

Ever go to the gym, see all the machine, and get overwhelmed? Thinking: what do I do? Where do I start? How much do I do? Help! help! help! I just want tone up. I did all the time until I started working out with my friend Brandon. He showed me a bunch of workouts I could even do at home, to help me tone and reach my peak fitness.  Now, by peak fitness, I’m not talking about bulking, lifting, shredding and looking like a he/she. Eh not for me. Some of my friends do that and some look great but some I have to take a step back, do a double look and remember if they are a girl or guy.

I just like to stay active, fit and toned. I’m naturally petite so a big thing Brandon helps me focus on is breathing right. Elementary right? You’d be surprised how many people don’t breathe right during their workouts and it makes a world of a difference, in seeing results and staying toned.

Modified push-ups: putting an emphasis on keeping the core tight, and exhaling when stretching for your target.

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 Leg pull-ins: place your hands or elbows on the ground, inhale as you fully extend your legs, and exhale as you contract the legs in, focusing on keeping your feet level with your line of vision.

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 Bridge: this workout starts with your feet planted firmly on the ground, with a separation between your feet equal with your shoulders, exhale and raise the hips up, focusing on using your thighs and gluteus to push and tighten your core.
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 Alternating arm-raises: tightening your wrist and placing s slight bend in your elbow, exhale as you raise the weights to shoulder level, inhale as you lower your arms and rotate them to the forwards position, repeat to completion.

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 “Punch-crunches”: start in regular sit-up position, hands on the side of your head, exhale and reach across your body, aiming to get your elbow parallel to your knee
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 Modified Mountain Climbers: start in the push-up position, and rapidly bring your knees up to your elbows, across the body, and exhaling as when you bring your knee to your elbow

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Texas: Shop local for your San Antonio Rodeo Ready Outfits

Ladies! The smell of BBQ and manure is in the air. The 2015 San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is here. Have you put together your rodeo get up yet? I’ve got you covered. I visited some local boutiques around San Antonio to find some fabulous outfits. You know, “these boots were made for walking,” well let’s add to that some class and southern sassy outfits that will make those cowboy hats tip. I even found a boutique that will have a booth at the rodeo grounds!

First up, Moda Mia Fashion Boutique. Now this is the place to get some chic trendy dresses! I was caught off guard by the beautiful selection and left with a dress for my birthday, instead of the rodeo. Either way, take a look at some of my favorites from Moda Mia!

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Next, up is Montage Vintage. Yep, vintage! It’s a vintage up-cycle boutique and I found  amazing pieces. Some maybe even for those that “walk the line.” 

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Last, but definitely not least, cause I had to save the best for last is Double Back Ranch! I found out about their store while I was at the Rodeo BBQ cook-off. They are located in St. Hedwig, which just a little off east 1604, and a few miles away from my Dad’s ranch! Their store is adorable from top to bottom. Everything with a little class and southern sass, home decor, dresses, skirts, shorts, pants, t-shirts, and accessories. So, if you like to get all dolled up or just more of a jeans and t-shirt gal, they have you covered! St. Hedwig, looking a little out of the way on the map? Guess what!?!? They have a pretty fabulous booth on the rodeo grounds this year! Perfect, if you’re going straight from work and need a glamorous wardrobe change. They are going to be in the Two-Step Expo. Hall booth 507-509.

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If y’all have an suggestions on local boutiques that are also rodeo ready let me know!