Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

As you already know I was in Chicago for a work related training over the Memorial Day weekend. I arrived on Thursday (a day earlier than my training) and left on Monday (the day after the training) so I would have plenty of time for hanging out and sightseeing. My visit was close to the end of Tulip Days on the Magnificent Mile but I was able to see plenty of vibrant tulips in bloom.

On my first day in the city, I decided to splurge on a 4th row ticket to see Wicked at the Oriental Theater. I LOVE live shows, with the amazing stage setups, costumes, live music and fabulous old theaters.

I wish I could show you pictures from inside the Oriental lobby, but none came out very good. And inside the actual theater there was a picture nazi/usher forbidding the theater-goers from taking any pictures. Anyhow, the show was awesome and afterward, I found a nice lady to take a picture of me to commemorate the experience.

Come back tomorrow, when I’ll share more from my Chicago trip!


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I know I hyped this up so much, that you probably figured that I forgot about it. NO WAY! I certainly made sure to attend the Houston Art Car Parade this weekend while I was in Houston, and I had so much fun. Not that walking a mile from where we parked to get to the actual parade or standing in the hot sun with little shade was fun but there were so many interesting cars and people. When we first got there, my sister and I (Burt’s Bees addicts!) made sure that we found the Burt’s Bees Experience tent.

We thought we were going to get awesome goodies…we got seeds and baby wash.

The Starbucks booth was giving out free samples of iced coffee so I got some, for the ice!

The parade had officially started, but we decided to let it make it’s way back to our side of the street before we really started paying attention. While waiting, we saw this avid art car fan.

My mom said her bra size was probably “44 Long”. Poor thing.

I seriously took pictures of almost every car (there were 200+ cars)…even some that were sucky, because I didn’t want the people to see me taking pictures of other cooler cars, but not their car. Or sometimes I’d take a picture of cars with kids in them to make the kids feel special. I know, I’M SPECIAL! Anyhow, here are some highlights of the actual parade.

This big thing is “Our Lady of Transportation” and it was AWESOME…that’s why they won the top two highest awards in the parade.

Shattered Vanity, little mirrors neatly arranged all over the whole car.

Billy Basses and some lobsters that sang and danced in unison.

The Rocket was a political statement, complete with Satan, Dubya, and many other people complete with mini “rockets” protruding out of their “lower front waist areas.” The other pictures I have of the Rocket aren’t suitable for children’s eyes. Moving on.

The peacock’s feathers fanned up and down.

At some point, we saw this guy, with a spinner hubcap around his neck. It actually spun.

My dad LOVED the Land Yacht!

The chicken was pretty cool.

I do think it takes talent (in some cases A LOT of talent) and imagination. But to build an art car, I think you’ve also got to have commitment. From what I’ve read, some people get sponsorships to build their art cars, so I realize it could be a pretty big monetary commitment. However, you’ve also got to have the actual commitment to building or decorating and actual automobile with whatever you think is artistic.

Unfortunately, slapping a piece of plastic with some spray paint squiggles over your car does not constitute commitment since you can stop after the parade, ball up the plastic, and throw it away (or re-use it next year for those of you who are “going green”). I’m not impressed by your art car wannabe. Sorry guy!

Check out some of the other 2008 Art Car Parade entries at http://www.orangeshow.org/v2008/ and tell me… which ones do you like??

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I heard about Abbie’s Imports at a cooking class I took a while back, so I told Brooke about it and we decided we had to try it. Like Brooke, I don’t know what I was expecting exactly, but when I heard there were delicious Greek foods – olives and stuffed grape leaves – in addition to a deli where you could get lunch, I knew it had to be good. We scoped out the place on the Internet first and we a bit startled to see Mediterranean Foods, Deli and R.V. Parts. Yes, you read that correctly…R.V. Parts. We are in southeast Texas, so pretty much anything goes, and we decided we were still game!

Well, yesterday, we finally were able to make it, and it really was an interesting, fun, and repeatable experience. We were graciously welcomed by a woman behind the deli counter who we later found out was Abbie’s wife. There was also a wonderful, little old lady and of course Abbie himself was there too. Here’s the sign, but unfortunately I don’t think you can actually see the Mobile Manor R.V. Park in this pic.


Abbie’s website boasts savory samples, and that’s no lie. Abbie’s wife let us sample two different kinds of cheeses, a delicious vegetable spread, some tabbouleh, some ginger cookies, and we were even offered some hot tea. For lunch, Brooke opted for a pizza and I opted for an Abbie’s special – a fresh pita, with hummus, turkey, mozzarella, and cucumbers.

While we were waiting for our lunch, Brooke got to learn about southeast Texas/Beaumont politics with Abbie’s wife and I got to play “guess the accent” with the lovely, little old lady. I don’t know exactly how old she is but I do know she has been in the United States around 45 years. I asked her where she was from and so she asked me if I could pick up the accent. I guessed Italian first because when we were placing our order, she gave Brooke a lesson on time and Italian greetings. She gave a quick glance at the clock to check the time, and said “Buongiorno! Come stai questa mattina?” And she taught Brooke how to respond with a spirited, “bene bellissimo” (or something close to that!) Thanks to my trip to Italia, I was familiar with those phrases!

Nope the accent wasn’t Italian. Guess again. Um, we were in a Greek deli/store, so I guessed, Greek? Nope. I suck at guessing accents apparently. Luckily, she gave a hint that was pretty obvious by telling me she was from Buenos Aires and I knew that’s in Argentina. I also learned that her family lived in Naples, Italy for a few years too, hence the Italian lessons.

So we shopped, and chatted and shopped and chatted some more. I think we actually arrived at about 11:15 or 11:20, and it was about 11:45 when we were finally sitting down to eat. Talk about good, old-fashioned European/southern hospitality. They didn’t rush us and they made us feel like we were old friends. But they also didn’t rush making the food. We decided next time, we’ll call ahead to have the sandwiches ready when we get there, since on lunch hour you can’t exactly just sit and chat all afternoon!

Here’s the half of my delicious Abbie’s Special that I brought back to the office with me.


And here’s the decadent, flaky piece of pistachio baklava I brought back for an afternoon snack.


I wish I had more pictures to share with you, but I know we’ll be going back, so maybe next time we’re chatting it up with Abbie about LU (he’s an alum, and we got his life story too, long story short…pre-med, turned engineer, turned store owner) or partaking in savory samples, playing politics or guess the accents, we’ll get over the touristy fear of looking like big, camera wielding dorks at a local dining and shopping establishment, and ask our new friends if they’d mind taking a picture with us. Somehow, I think they’d be thrilled!

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One of the most awesome things about working at a university is that you don’t have to seek out cultural, creative, and interesting opportunities. They pretty much present themselves to you everyday. And most of the time the stuff is free. Oddly enough, most college students don’t take advantage of all the freebies that are offered (and there are a lot, from classical music and dance concerts, to art exhibits, to famous speakers, and that barely begins to scrape the surface.)

Well, this week is Cultural Immersion Week and yesterday Indian Culture was celebrated. It was really interesting to learn about the different attire and fabrics their sari’s are made of. I tried a super sweet Indian dessert (made by one of the student tutors!) and I even got a henna tattoo. Check it out!


This is what it looked like right after the girl drew it for me. The design is a peacock. I asked what it meant, and she told me they typically draw a peacock on a woman’s hand on her wedding day. I laughed and said “My boyfriend’s not going to like that very much.”


Here is the detail of the ink after it had been drying for more than an hour.  I was told to leave the ink on to dry for as long as possible, that the longer it dries, the more vivid the color would be.  I waited for probably two hours and the ink started drying and flaking off a little bit.  And since it was almost time to go to a business etiquette dinner, I washed the ink off. 


Isn’t it neat?  Today the design is a little more brownish in color, but the design should last for almost two weeks before fading away.  My boyfriend saw it asked, “What is that on your hand?” (luckily it was after I washed the dried ink off.)  When I told him what it was and what they told me it meant he just said, “Oh.”  I know he’s just happy it’s not a real tattoo.  And you know, I’m ok with this being the closest to a real tattoo I’ll ever get!

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