What Are We Doing to Our Oceans?

Have you ever seen an 8’ tall octopus made out of the trash we are putting into our oceans? What about an eagle with a 17’ wingspan? I have. And while my artist heart sings at the beauty of these sculptures my environmental heart is breaking at the eye opening amount of trash that is making it into our oceans. Truthfully there are things making it to our oceans that I couldn’t have even fathomed winding up there. Everything from toothbrushes to motorcycle helmets to pregnancy tests. Not to mention the absurd amount of flip flops, discarded coolers, and water bottles.

An organization called Washed Ashore is raising awareness through art. To date they have processed 60,000 lbs of plastic and have created some magnificent sculptures to entertain the eye while educating us on what is going into the sea. The exhibit is currently on display in Galveston (through March 5th) and the city turned it into something fun. You can “check in” at each sculpture and when you have seen 9 of the 20 you can submit it to the visitors center for some Galveston swag. We didn’t really care about the swag but searching out the sculptures took us to parts of the island even my 30 year island loving heart hadn’t been. We had tons of fun doing this but it set my brain whirring.

Octavia the Octopus

Irving has reduced it’s trash pick up day to once a week and really doesn’t promote doing recycling. I live in a neighborhood that I have several neighbors who still loyally put out their blue bags (yeah!) but since I wasn’t sure if they were actually making it to a recycling center I was hesitant. Let’s face it – it DOES take work to reduce your footprint on the environment. Much like eating organic or cutting down on driving to help pollution – it takes concentrated effort to recycle. You have to rinse food items off plastic or metal you are recycling, break down boxes, and know what can and can’t be recycled.

Edward the Turtle

But something about these sculptures this weekend reminded me how very important that effort is. As a marine life lover we’re feeding our animals trash! Why do the marine animals that are part of the circle of life that feed us and sustain us deserve that? Being frank – if it’s going in their bodies it’s going into ours in some form or fashion.

Back to what can I do different? While Tim and I were talking we sat and we ordered a dual trash can that will allow us to easily get trash where it goes and recyclable materials in those precious blue bags. Doing some research I realized that the food we throw away in the trash winds up in landfills creating gas that is getting into the air. So we also are going to begin composting again. I did this years ago and enjoyed it – just gotta get set back up again.

Full disclosure: I was already on the beginnings of a composting kick.

Rosa the Eagle

I fully admit I contribute to the water bottle problem. With the things I put in my water grabbing one and going is easiest. I am the chief supplier of water to the office – also in the form of plastic water bottles. We’ve resolved to get a Brita filter for the fridge and switch over to a reusable water bottle when at home or at the office. If we have to use plastic on the go we’ll be able to recycle it when we get home.

None of these feel like big enough changes to help with the size of the problem I saw on display this weekend but I know that if I make a small change and every other person who saw what I saw makes a change it WILL bring change. I could write a book on all the ways our oceans and marine life are in trouble but I’ll instead just ask that you check out the site and make any small changes you can to protect the world we live in.

Washed Ashore – Art to Save the Sea

Blessings y’all – Amy

The Road I’m Taking Now

I have long believed that there are places that live in our heart that, when given the chance to return there, fill your happy tank in a way that is indescribable. Hot Springs as a whole is one of those places but within that magic town is a winding road up to the mountain tower. It’s tradition for our family to drive it before we head out of town. It’s also become tradition to take more than a few minutes to appreciate the beauty of the area.

Hot Springs, AR

For me, today, this road had a different message. Today I could see the connection between this winding road and the path I’ve been on the last few years. I could appreciate the beauty of the landscape that masks the possibility of falling right over the steep edge. How many times have I fallen off the edge as I’ve worked on healing? How many times have I failed to appreciate the beauty that lies even in the fear and the pain? Too many to count.

Today I saw a road to follow that you can’t see the destination. I just have to start down it and have faith that around each corner or dip in the road that same road is still under me and in front of me carrying me to the next destination. I know that some of the positive message I took from this place is a reflection of the peaceful happy place I have reached in my heart but somehow it feels bigger than that.

How many time do we deviate from the path because we focus on one of the tiny details on the side of the road instead of having faith in the road we’re on? Faith is a hard thing sometimes. As humans we think we can fix, control, or change things that are out of our control. The reality is that we can’t change a thing. We have to put our faith in God and the road ahead no matter how hard.

The road I am on now has me focused on the future. On chasing dreams and having a life filled with joy and laughter. Letting go of the illusion that I could change anything about the road God set me on has cracked open my heart so wide it’s breathtaking.

Don’t be afraid of the road. Have faith and just start the journey. It’ll make you happier than you could ever dream of if you focus on the beauty instead of the pain.

Blessings y’all – Amy

The Southern Napa Valley

Venture to the heart of Texas and you’ll find a sweet little town with so much charm you just don’t want to leave. Fredericksburg, Texas has become THE southern destination for girls’ trips, bridal parties, couples weekend getaways, and childless vacations. Here you can enjoy hills filled with vineyards as far as the eye can see, a Main Street full of treasures to explore, and country air to help you relax and sleep.

With four of us traveling in from Lubbock, Houston, and Dallas meeting in Fredericksburg is almost a dead center 4 to 4 1/2 hour drive for all of us. Not an unpleasant drive and not so far that you lose an entire day on either end of a trip driving.

In a single weekend we managed to do tastings at six wineries. Five of the six were laid back relaxing experiences where the mood was quiet and we were able to converse and hear the sommelier tell us about the wine we were trying. One vineyard we could have been at a bar based on the noise level of the three bridal parties not knowing how to conduct themselves as ladies. I don’t hold that against the vineyard other than management not stepping in to protect the ambience of their establishment.

I think my favorite of the weekend was a last minute edition at Texas Heritage Vineyard. Our driver recommended it after our disappointing aforementioned stop. We were pretty late in the afternoon for a tasting at Texas Heritage but they welcomed us and didn’t let on that they probably wanted to go home.

As we sat trying wines one of the owners came and sat down with us and just made conversation. He was charming and adorable. I missed the details on the last two wines because I was enjoying a totally separate conversation with him. 🙃 When our tasting was over there was one type of wine that wasn’t offered on the menu that day that my niece really wanted to try. Our sommelier was happy to bring around a taste. It was just a Texas type experience. Needless to say, they gained a couple new wine club members before we left.

We also had amazing food experiences while here. Friday night we ate at The Club at Barron’s Creekside. While I personally didn’t care for the blues music (not my fav type of music) the place was pretty much packed. The food was amazing and the sunset view over the vineyard was stunning. A wonderful start to our weekend. With the added bonus of the owners nephew being from Austria and him setting us straight on what our Saturday night dinner plans needed to be.

Saturday night we were directed to get our name on the list at a little German place called Otto’s and to head next door while we waited to a French market called La Baruche. Both experiences were mind blowing. Starting at La Baruche…the sommelier didn’t stop until she had us paired with a wine that was perfect for all four of us. (A couple of us were just about wine-d out for the day.) We then had a warm Brie that was unlike anything I have ever had as an appetizer. Since the restaurant had slowed down we got to spend some time with the sommelier getting some more recommendations on wines we might not have chosen for ourselves normally. It was wonderful.

Our call came that our table was ready at Otto’s. Whatever personality our waiter lacked was made up for by the food and drinks. Our driver for the day had told us to get the mushroom appetizer – it was great. We also got the pretzel. Still not sure what the sauce was that came with that pretzel but I will be thinking about it for weeks to come.

I got the salmon. I haven’t finished an entire plate of food in months. Save for a couple shared bites for the others to get a taste I ate the whole darn thing. It was that good. AND we got dessert. Apparently sunshine and wine drinking makes you really hungry.

Duck Schnitzel
Beef Tenderloin
Strawberry Shortcake w/Honey Lavender Ice Cream

We got the added bonus of being able to stay at a friend of mine’s home. The kind of home I dream about owning someday. Creaking original floors, wide trimmed doors and floors, sprawling garden, chickens roaming, open floor plan. If I was more educated in architecture I could tell you year and style but I can only speak from how it makes my heart beat to walk around it. Staying in a charming place instead of a box hotel definitely added to the experience!

It’ll be hotter here than Napa this summer. But it’ll make up for it with Texas hospitality and charm. I personally can’t wait to get back here. ❤️