Monday, March 25, 2013

HEADED TO EUROPE


We're off to Europe, heading out TODAY! So excited. This is in honor of our 4th wedding anniversary - coming up on March 28th. Yay! (For those of you following our 'love story', I'm sorry I didn't have it finished in time for our anniversary. You'll just have to stay tuned for part three when I get back! Until then, you can catch up or refresh your memory by reading part one and part two.)

Anyway. We are backpacking while in Europe - taking the Eurail around Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, France, and Switzerland for 3 weeks.

Give or take a few countries, maybe.

We don't really have that much of a plan. We just have our few top things that we HAVE to do, and we know where we're staying the first night we're there. That's about all. :)

I will not be blogging at all while I am there. This IS my vacation, after all! :) But if you want to keep updated, I will be on Twitter and Instagram the whole time, trying to make iPhone photos do Europe justice. (Yeah right! Glad I'll have my DSLR there with me, too!)

So don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram in order to see what I'm up to while I'm away. See you in 3 weeks!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

ABQ BIO PARK | ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO


I don't know about you, but almost wherever I go, I want to see and learn about the vegetation there. I love plants and flowers and trees and learning about the biosphere that cultivates them. It's so amazing to me, and makes me want to bless the Lord all the time for creating such beautiful, complex, and wondrous things.

So, while in Albuquerque last year, we visited the Albuquerque Botanical Gardens (part of the ABQ BioPark). We were there right when spring was hitting the region, so while we got to see the buds forming on everything, we didn't necessarily get to see the complete and full vegetation it becomes by the end of spring. But it was beautiful regardless...just see for yourself!


As you can see, there are wide open spaces of greenery for people to lounge and have picnics! A perfect family spot. The ABQ BioPark also puts on little demonstrations for kids throughout the day in this area.


There were so many of these purple and yellow flowers just cropping up out of the grass. They were lovely. Perfect for picking and putting in your hair (but I restrained...this is a conservation park, after all!).


I was obsessed with the tree's shadows that day. And again, those little purple and yellow flowers. :)


One of my favorite areas. Can you imagine having a glorious wedding here? Great thing is, places like this look good in all seasons, with or without greenery on the vine (as you can see here). I'm sure it would look gorgeous with snow covering it, as well!


Fave. Oh, how I love the pink buds with a perfect sky blue background!! Such a good nature color combo. I think I was at these trees for about 10 minutes snapping photos like crazy before Mark could pull me away. :)


Love that New Mexico sunshine!


Such weird plants! I want them! :) For the life of me, I can't remember what they are called (I thought I took a photo of the name, but I guess not). If you know the name of these, tell me! They are just too cool.


One of the last things we did was go into a few of the conservatories. They are like giant greenhouses that have much more vegetation than outside, as you can see.


This was the outside of one of the conservatories. (See? Obsessed with tree shadows.)


This was part of the Japanese Garden. Consistent with most Japanese gardens, this one was very serene and peaceful.

The ABQ BioPark has a lot more to offer that we didn't get to do. In the Botanical Gardens, there are butterfly exhibits that were closed when were were there, as well as a farming area. As for the rest of the ABQ BioPark, there is an aquarium, a zoo, and children's play areas.

I loved this place so much and would love to go back at a different time of the year to see how much the vegetation has changed. (How many times have I said "vegetation" in this post now?)

[All photos were taken in March 2012.]

Friday, March 22, 2013

PALO DURO CANYON | AMARILLO, TEXAS

Do you guys remember that time that I was away for a two-week road trip around the Southwest United States? Yeah, I didn't think so. That's because it was a YEAR ago, and I NEVER blogged it.

I'm pitiful. I didn't even get around to editing the photos from the trip until the other day. My brain does weird things. Since I basically edit photos for a living for other people, I tell myself that other people's photos are my number one priority. I put my own memories (i.e. photos) on the backburner. Well, enough is enough!! :)

Though I will still put my business and other people before myself and my own photos, I am going to try to be better about this, and at least put a teeny bit of priority on editing personal photos. YESS!

Anyway. A year ago, on our 3rd anniversary trip, we went on a road trip, touring New Mexico and Arizona. Mark's sister lives in Arizona, so we thought we'd make a fun road trip out of visiting her.

Our first stop was actually still in Texas, though (because Texas is HUGE, y'all, and takes FOR-EV-ER to drive out of). We decided to have a picnic in Palo Duro Canyon, in Canyon, Texas, just outside of Amarillo.



Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States, behind only the Grand Canyon. I've been to the Grand Canyon, and I was still captivated by the beauty of Palo Duro Canyon.


Look at that perfectly straight horizon line, y'all! I don't know why that amazes me so much, but that is one thing I love about canyons.


Palo Duro is 120 miles long and as much as 20 miles wide in some places, while the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and as much as 17 miles wide. As you can see, the grandeur of Palo Duro is breathtaking, but in a completely different way than the Grand Canyon.


At it's deepest, Palo Duro Canyon is about 997 feet deep, while the Grand Canyon reaches 6,000 feet deep. Since it isn't as deep, Palo Duro is a great place for a day-hike, and you can actually drive into the canyon.

So that's what we did, since we only had a few hours to be there.


We went exploring in a few places when we got into the canyon. The colors were so vivid that day! I love the orange dirt and the golden grass.


After exploring a bit, we found a great picnic area to have our lunch. Our lunch was so fun that day, with food we found from a local grocery store that you can find anywhere! We had lettuce wraps, with all sorts of veggies in them, along with guacamole, pico, and salsa. And of course, peanut butter for dessert. :)

Eating lunch in the middle of a canyon, with nothing around you but the great outdoors, is one of the best feelings ever! We loved just looking around at the beauty while we ate.


After lunch, we found a little stream running through the park. Kids were playing in it, and it was a good thing we were wearing Chacos, because we decided to play in it as well. :)


We left the park hesitantly, needing to keep on driving to make it to Albuquerque. We have heard from friends that Palo Duro is a great place for rock climbing, so we can't wait to make it back one day.




[All photos were taken in March 2012.]

Thursday, March 21, 2013

GUEST POST from A SIMPLE KIND OF LOVE

I'm leaving for my European anniversary trip on Monday, but before I go, I wanted to tell you all about one of my sponsors! Actually, she's gonna tell you a little about herself, not me. I'm sure she'd do much better. :)


Hi, I'm Beth!  I am an Accounts Payable Coordinator by day and a homemaker by night and weekend.  I've been married to my best friend for a year and a half, and we're trying to make the big city our home.

My husband was actually the one who encouraged me to open my little shop.  At the time, I was unemployed with no job in sight.   I prayed about it, because I wanted it to be for God's glory, not mine.  A few months later, I started selling crafts, like the ones I had made for my best friend's bridal shower. 

In January of this year, I started thinking about the vision for my shop.  I was feeling that I was trying to do it on my own, rather than letting God be the center.  So I was brainstorming and praying about what I could do for His glory.  Well, a fellow blog friend was trying to raise funds to adopt their foster daughter, and I knew God was calling me to help with the process.  For the first time since opening the shop, a percentage of sales was donated to their adoption fund.  I was so blessed to see others purchasing items to help out.  And next week, I will be blessed to see that little girl gain a Forever Family.

It's all for Him.  I want to be able to bless others because He has blessed me so much.  I am called to love Him and love others.  That's what A Simple Kind of Love is all about.


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Go check out Beth's shop, where she has all sorts of homemade creations, like jewelry and home decor, at A Simple Kind of Love. You'll be supporting a great girl AND a great cause!

Also, follow her on twitter to see what she's up to and like her Facebook page to see sooo many photos of her great stuff!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

NEW BLOG DESIGN

Hey guys!! Sorry it's been so long. I've been CRAZY busy doing photo shoots, editing photo shoots, designing new blogs and brands, filing taxes, and getting ready for Europe (leaving March 24th). Whew!!

And on top of all that, since the beginning of March, we've had 4 sets of people stay with us. My sister, bro-in-law, and nephew came in one weekend for a softball tournament that my bro-in-law was in. The next weekend, my other sister came down for an open house at a hospital for a nursing residency. The next weekend, my best friend came down from Dallas to hang out during her spring break.

Lastly, this past week, a friend's band stayed at our house because they were playing at SXSW. Literally 13 people were here at one time, in our itty bitty 850 sq. ft. 2 bedroom house. The floor was covered with people (haha!) and two people even borrowed our tent and slept in our front yard! Gotta love SXSW craziness.

So while all that has been FUN, it has also been crazy!

And on top of that, my blog and hosting has been acting up for the past couple of days. But I had been working on a new design for Let Birds Fly, so I took that as an opportunity to finish it and install it while working out the kinks.

So here's the new design!!


I love it so much. I've been working on this for a while, in between other projects like editing photos and designing other things. I've been wanting something simpler for a while. I'm through with clutter. Let me know what you think!

Also, I'm still in the process of ironing out kinks and updating pages, so be patient with me through that. :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

ZILKER KITE FESTIVAL | AUSTIN, TX

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On Sunday, my sister, Stacey, and my nephew, Trey, and I went to the Zilker Kite Festival here in Austin. It was awesome!!

It was kind of a last minute decision to go, since my sister was visiting from out of town. I had planned to go with Mark, but he was out of town for his college choir reunion. So we parked down the street from the festival and took a pedicab to the park. Yay for supporting local businesses (especially a business that is SO Austin), but man, the pedicab ride was expensive.

Next year, I am making sure Mark will be able to go with me, and since we only live about 4.5 miles away from Zilker Park, we will ride our bikes there. AND take the dogs. AND bring food and a blanket to lounge on. You know, all the stuff we DIDN'T do this year. :)

I loved it anyway!! There were so many people there, and it was the most gorgeous day and weather we've had since moving here. Perfect. It just made me so grateful to be living in this city again.

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Watching everyone try to fly a kite was pretty dog-gone hilarious. The wind was awesome for kite-flying, but the talent from everyone was not so good. :)  In being at the festival, you HAD to be okay with a kite dive-bombing your head, or getting clothes-lined from the kite strings.

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There were all sorts of kites, from home-made, to professional-looking ones, to store bought ones with Cinderella printed on them. This dragon one was my favorite! So cool.

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I can't even begin to try to explain to you how many people were there. It felt like the whole city of Austin was there!! It's a free festival, so it makes sense.

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I have no idea why some people were flying their kites around these trees. Poor kites met their fates through branches. I saw a lot of kites accidentally let go, as well. It was so windy that the kites just took off upwards like helium-filled balloons.

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My nephew had fun running around, finding the kites with Nemo and Lightening McQueen on them, playing in the dirt, and climbing trees. Such a cutie.

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We had such a great time. If you ever get the chance, PLEASE visit Austin in the spring-time. It is perfect here.

[All photos were taken in March 2013.]