Living it up in Washington, D.C.

My first experience with WordPress was a four-month blog I kept in early 2009 when I lived in Rockville, Maryland. I was interning at a non-profit organization through The Washington Center and I had agreed to keep a blog for my college newspaper (the ASU Herald at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Ark.).

I’ve always loved keeping travel journels, but this online version was 10-times better. It was way more organized, neat and easier to maintain then my previously written versions. Of course, I mainly contribute that to the fact that blogs are harder to lose than a physical journal.

I hated that I could not include these original blog entries when I first began this new travel blog — it just didn’t feel right. Today, I finally learned how to successfully export these blog posts (from my other—private—blog to this one). Hallelujah!

So, if you are one of the three subscribers (thank you by the way) I’m sorry if you get a whole lot of emails from this blog.

To see my first-ever blog post of the 2009 trip, click here. You can also view the overall 2009 experience of living, studying and interning in D.C. here.


Garvan Woodland Gardens

A koi fish charges through the water to see if we have any food for him. We didn’t.

I’m talented at losing things for brief periods of time, such as these pictures of Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs. I went to the 210-acre forested peninsula on Lake Hamilton earlier this fall with my aunt as a Saturday get-a-way with our dogs. It was definitely interesting and was still filled with plenty of flowers despite the approaching cold weather.

One of the things I like about the place is its Hixson Family Woodland Nature Preserve. The Garland County Audubon Society says it has more than 100 different birds including the pileated woodpecker, tufted titmouse and the occasional bald eagle.

A Pileated Woodpecker we passed on our Sept. 10 hike.

The Garvan Woodland Gardens opened nine years ago and is a department of the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture. It was initially the beloved property of Malvern businesswoman Verna Cook Garvan, who dreamed of tranforming it into a public garden for all Arkansans to enjoy. She donated the private garden to the university in 1985 (26 years ago) with the understanding it would be developed into a first-class botanical garden.

It’s easy to get lost within the property that includes Evans Children’s Adventure Garden, Garden of Pine Wind (has a cool koi pond, see top picture), Singing Springs Gorge and Millsap Canopy Bridge, Three Sisters of Amity Daffodil Hill and Anthony Chapel where more than 355 couples were married in 2010 and 2011.

I can’t wait to go back in late spring, early summer, especially since it was that gorgeous in late fall. Until then, below are some of the pictures I took:

Fontainebleau State Park

We saw lots of deer at Fontainebleau State Park.

I recently spent a three-day vacation in Covington, La., visiting my cousin Stephen (see here) with my parents. The majority of our time was spent at the seminary, although we did take time out to visit Fontainebleau State Park.

The state park is home to the crumbling ruins of a 1829 sugar mill near Mandeville, La. The 2,800-acre park abuts Lake Pontchartrain and is also the home of Bald Eagles (which I unfortunately never saw). It is filled with live oaks with Spanish moss draped across the branches and is absolutely teeming with wildlife — we especially saw an abundance of herons and deer.

I absolutely loved the visit. My only complaint was that I didn’t have enough time to spend at the park. I am hoping one day I’ll be able to go back for a second visit.

Live oaks with Spanish moss.
It was easy to spot the moon in the blue sky above the state park.
A heron flies overhead.
The cabins I hope to stay in one day within the next year.

St. Joseph’s 86th annual bonfire

The bonfire raged all night long.

I’m proud to say that my cousin is in his final year at Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary School in Saint Benedict, La. (which is right outside of Covington, La.). Stephen is the student body president and organized Saint Joseph’s 86th annual bonfire this year. He invited my hometown Knights of Columbus to cook for the event. The KC’s (of which Stephen and, really, all the men in my family are in) said yes and ended up cooking 16 Boston butts to feed the seminarians and their families as well as the attending monks and priests. The bonfire took place after the annual football game between the St. Joseph Seminary Ravens and the Notre Dame Seminary Hunchbacks. Unfortunately, the Hunchbacks won the tough, but fun flag football game. Continue reading “St. Joseph’s 86th annual bonfire”

Let’s bag it.

A cute camera bag is quickly becoming a top “wish list” item for me. I bought my dream camera — a digital Canon camera — a few months back and I have loved it. However, I have not liked my options of my camera backpack or an simple black bag shoulder. Lately, I’ve been horrible and just tucked my camera and extra lense in my purse.

It’s these lapses of judgement (I’m afraid my camera will be hurt in my purse) that has me (finally) searching the web for a cute, simple girly camera bag that could also double for a purse.

The choices are expensive, but I’ve finally (and tentatively) narrowed down the search to these three bags. Which one do you recommend of the following?

A lavender Libby bag by Kelly Moore

The Libby has two 6.5"x7.5" front size pockets and 10.5" front pocket as well as two 6.5"x8.5" open pockets on the side and a 11" xipper pocket (fits an iPad) on the back. It's water resistant and will fit up to a 17" laptop with five padded, removable, adjustable dividers. It's $249.

A Livy bag by Cheeky Lime

The Livy bag (in mustard: YAY!) is weather resistant and fits a DSLR camera, up to three lenses, a laptop, iPad, and/or personal items. It's $129.

Chevron by Ketti Handbags

This indigo and white linen bag has a one inside zippered pocket, two adjustable dividers, metal zipper closure, antique brass o-rings and brass feet. Its cute, although it'll only fit a camera and a few lenses since its 16"wx11"hx5"d. Price still unknown.

A foggy day

Snow geese hang out in a fog-covered field.

We’ve had plenty of fog-covered mornings lately. Fog can be nerve-wracking, but it has its pluses. I love the little surprises you see when the fog lets up just at the right moments so you can see what its hiding, such as geese in the field you are passing.

The snow geese winter in the area and, lately, you can definitely tell when the noisy birds are flying by.


A crazy weekend

Gillett parade.

It was a crazy weekend. I was hopping all over the county to photograph parades, fundraisers and an open house. On Sunday, Stuttgart residents also held their 80th annual Christmas Candlelight Musicale and there were 42 girls that competed for the coveted Miss SHS crown.
It might have been hectic, but it sure was fun for all involved (including me):

These Stuttgart boys lit up the night with decorative strands of Christmas lights wrapped around their shoulders during the 2011 Stuttgart Christmas Parade.
James Gosney performs "Away in a manager" and "Amazing Grace" on saxophone at the 80th annual Christmas Candlelight Musicale.


Miss SJHS Charlsi Konecny talks to her sister Kelsi, the 2001 Miss SJHS after being crowned Sunday.


Ending on a high note

A joint church choir sings during "The Messiah."

My favorite part of being a journalist is that it forces me to attend events that I normally wouldn’t attend otherwise. I usually end up enjoying myself immensely, and last night was no different. I attended “The Messiah” composed by George Fredric Handel at First United Methodist Church.

The Arts Center of the Grand Prairie’s Lennox Performing Arts Series, Grand Avenue United Methodist Church and First United Methodist Church presented the event that had Charles Law conducting 21 pieces with a joint church choir as well as soloists Melissa Thoma, DeWitt native Satia Spencer, DeWitt resident Jess Essex, and Mark Wyers. Musicians were Kiril Laskarov on violin I, Beth Massa on violin II, Joe Joyner on viola, Casey Buck on cello and Amy Law (not pictured) on organ.

The church, already perfect with its beauty and calming atmosphere, was a great setting for the event with its lighted candles and Christmas tree.

Home Sweet Home

I’m home! I’m safely tucked into bed and couldn’t be happier.

The flight from Houston to Little Rock was rough due to the bad weather, however, the drive to Stuttgart was worse. Yes, I was that driver going 35- to 40-mph even on the Interstate. I freak out driving in the rain so driving very slow helped calm me down as well as the steady stream of Guardian Angel, Hail Marys, Our Fathers and Blessed Be prayers that I said. I didn’t realize how bad my fear was until I started messing up the words to prayers I’ve said my whole life.

But all’s well now that I’m home. I had trouble downloading my Tucson pictures onto my IPad this weekend so I can’t wait to download and go through them tomorrow. I’m hoping to add pictures to my Arizona blog posts soon!