Have you ever tried to have brunch in an abandoned building?

I did, at the Hungarian Embassy Washington DC.

Hungarian Embassy Washington

I was in DC for the inauguration and a quintessential thing to do there is crash an embassy for free alcohol. So, after spending the morning at the Women’s March, I met up with some friends and we tried to go to the Hungarian Embassy Washington DC for an event (and free mimosas).

But when we got there, not only was the building empty, but the gate was chained shut. And we were essentially in the middle of the woods.

As our Lyft driver disappeared down the road, my cheeks grew a little warm.

See also:

Hungarian Embassy DC New Location

“Uhhh. Y’all. This is how horror movies start,” I laughed as we circled the dreary building, looking for an entrance. “The event was today, right?”

“Yeah,” my friend Smoky said, checking her phone. Her face turned red. “Y’all, we’re at the wrong place.”

By this point, standing in front of a dark building and hearing the eerie coo of doves in the distance, I had gathered that.

Turns out the event we were meant to attend was the Hungarian Washington Embassy DC’s new location in the center of the city. Near enough to Smoky’s home that we could’ve walked.

We immediately called another Lyft and within minutes were on our way back over the river and through the woods, leaving spookesville behind.

Thank God for smartphones, right?

I kept thinking about what would have happened in the days of yesteryear…seeing the cab disappear into the distance…having no idea where you are…with no way to contact help…when out of the corner of your eye you spot him…Shia LaBeouf.

New Location Hungarian Embassy DC

We were terribly underdressed when we arrived at the embassy, weaving between diplomats and fancy ladies in pearls while we were just trying to find some snacks.

I ran into a few friends from college, as DC is filled with young professionals it’s nearly impossible not to see someone you know at these things, and took solace in the fact that we were all not fancy.

That said, the brunch at the Hungarian Embassy Washington DC was delicious. The people were welcoming and made Smoky and I even more excited about our upcoming trip to Budapest.

Hungarian Embassy Washington DC New Location

The Hungarian Embassy Washington DC’s new building is lovely—we all felt right at home (if not a bit warm since there were so many people there to see its new location). But the best part?

The guard dog.

Hungarian Dog hungarian embassy washington dc

Smoky was trying to take a photo of the dog…but I thought she was taking a photo of me so I sat down and ruined her photo.

Hungarian Embassy Washington DC

Mop or dog

We didn’t feel 100% comfortable stuffing out faces amongst the aforementioned fancy ladies in pearls, so we stopped by one of the best places to eat in DC (besides Nandos of course): Ted’s Bulletin.

Known for its homemade pop tarts, Ted’s is a familyish-owned place with 1920’s décor and friendly vibe. There are a few locations sprinkled throughout the greater-DC area. It’s the best brunch in town.

New Location Hungarian Embassy Washington DC

Ted’s Bulletin Breakfast

Have y’all ever made a travel mistake? Arrived at 9:30PM instead of AM? Put in the wrong location? I’d love to hear about it. Thankfully the consequences for this brunch gone badly weren’t too high.

  • Pin it:

New Location Hungarian Embassy Washington DC

Follow:

I went to the Black Tie and Boots Texas State Society Inaugural Ball in January 2017. Here’s what happened:

Texans are my favorite kind of people, so it’s a good thing I spent inauguration eve with nearly 10,000 of them.

I’ve gained a little weight since college, so my red coat didn’t quite button, allowing the freezing Maryland air to envelop me as my friends and I darted down the block towards the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center for the Texas State Society Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball.

Our Lyft driver dropped us at the end of the street to avoid the traffic. I called back “thanks” as I toddled on the concrete, not used to wearing heels. He flashed a smile and inched his way around the corner, perhaps to prepare himself for the morning.

Ah, the morning. Inauguration Day.

See also:

Black Tie & Boots texas state society

the 1st of many!

My friend Smoky works for a senior senator and put in quite a bit of extra time to ensure the inaugural ticketing process ran smoothly for his constituents (that’s how we “scored” seated tickets for the actual ceremony), but many people (surprise, surprise) never materialized to actually pick up their tickets for the standing areas, so she was tasked with getting rid of them.

After handing a few to our Lyft driver, we arrived at the Texas State Society ball with dozens of them stuffed in her purse, determined to give them all away.

I felt a little bit like Santa Claus.

Black Tie & Boots texas state society

My dress from Rent the Runway! It was HUGE so I had to get creative with safety pins to get it to work.

While it was easier to take the Black Tie and Boots ball for what it was, a big party put on by the Texas State Society in DC regardless of who wins the White House, handing out the inauguration tickets inherently felt more political.

But it did give us some leverage.

We swiped some chairs from the first people we gave tickets to. I was crazy and wore blue suede heels without really breaking them in, so about 20 minutes after arriving it felt like there was glass attached to the balls of my feet.

While there were tables sprinkled throughout the Gaylord’s ballrooms, most of them were occupied with people chowing down on the available Tex-Mex (y’all, I must’ve eaten like 15 mini-burritos), so when I saw an empty seat, I pounced.

Black Tie & Boots texas state society

One of the lobbies at the Gaylord.

texas state society black tie & boots

Can you spot the photobomb

I sat down at a table with a pair of husbands whose wives were dancing and 100% would’ve gotten kicked out when they got back if Smoky hadn’t casually given them some tickets.

All of a sudden, they thought we were important. A man in the hallway pulled out a wad of 20’s thicker than my fist (which of course we didn’t accept) when he heard we had tickets, while another younger man chatted to us nearly non-stop for about 5 minutes, making us feel a bit trapped.

“Was he flirting?” Smoky asked.

“No, I think he thought we could do something for him,” another friend replied.

Jokes on him, though. He was talking to the least important group of people at the Texas State Society ball.. People who were wearing rented dresses, pinchy heels, and freely taking advantage of the open bar.

Black Tie & Boots texas state society

We’ve come a long way from prom, Smoky #GloUp

Black Tie & Boots Dresses texas state society

*ahem* please notice the Texas flags

There were a few actually important people there though, like a congressman I had campaigned for as a part of my government class in 2008. Little me had a huge crush on him. I remember thinking that he smelled really good, so I wobbled a little when I spotted him talking to a group of patrons nearby.

He greeted each of them, and somehow I got tacked onto the end of the introduction, like I was part of the group.

“Hi, Congressman,” I squeaked, sticking out a clammy hand.

I wanted to have an actual conversation (about what, I don’t know….my mind was filled with radio silence), but when he turned to my “companions” to begin talking about some school issue, I could only manage to stand there blankly smiling for a moment or two before had to just awkwardly side-step away from the conversation and back to my friends.

It wouldn’t have been too bad if I hadn’t run into him again and again throughout the ball getting “who the heck are you” looks each time.

Black Tie & Boots texas state society

100% full stalker mode

D.C. is filled with young people trying to make their mark on the world and so was the Black Tie and Boots ball. If you work for the government, or an organization that needs government funding support, a Texas State Society inaugural ball is a good place to network.

It’s also a great place to find a date (i.e. the highest concentration of motivated businessmen and suave military personnel probably anywhere).

Black Tie & Boots texas state society

Tired of acting fancy

Later in the evening, after the Beach Boys played and some widely entertaining swing dance groups tore up the dance floor (see below; how those girls manage those drops is beyond me) Donald Trump Jr. arrived to thunderous applause.

The majority of the people there fell into my demographic: straight, white, and probably evangelical in some way. At the time, before 45 had officially come to power, I felt more compelled to hear them out. Now, nearing the end of his first 100 days, I have less sympathy.

Black Tie & Boots texas state society

Jr. and co.

Jr. looks a little bit less like a serial killer than his younger brother, but being close enough to him that I could see the sweat on his forehead still gave me the creeps.

He spoke about his excitement around the evening and gratitude towards his father’s voters. He received an honorary Stetson and people laughed.

I thought about the words of a speaker earlier in the night.

“I know the Texas State Society Black Tie and Boots isn’t partisan, but can you just imagine how sick the other side feels right now?” The crowd cheered in response.

That was me.

I felt sick.

I went to find another mini-burrito.

  • Pin it: 

Black Tie & Boots Pin

PS: I also went to the Women’s March on Washington in DC. 

Follow:

Looking for information on Tours of the Texas state Capitol?

free texas state capitol tour

“Excuse me, sir? This is a private tour.”

“This is the Texas State Capitol; I’m free to follow any tour I want.”

“Yeah, free to follow any other tour.”

Sass courtesy of my older sister Kerry. We were in Austin for the weekend because her husband had just graduated as a Texas State Trooper and she wanted to show off Texas’ capital city to the fam since we all drove in for the ceremony.

Free Texas Capitol Tour Door free texas state capitol tour Tours of the Texas state Capitol

But my brother in law’s family is preeetty big, so although you can take one of the free Tours of the Texas State Capitol (really: you just show up and join the next tour leaving—more on that here), we didn’t feel like it would be fair to the general public to just roll up with about 35 people and expect to be accommodated.

So we called ahead.

My dad has voted in every election basically since being born, so when Mike Schofield decided to run for the Texas House of Representatives, he came to our house to talk to my dad for a few hours to go over things that were important to voters in the district. So we only thought it fair to call in a favor.

See also:

free Tours of the Texas State Capitol texas state capitol parking

The six flags that have flown over Texas. Can you name them all?

State of Texas Seal free Tours of the Texas State Capitol texas state capitol parking

just sittin on the seal

Texas State Capitol Dome free Tours of the Texas State Capitol texas state capitol parking

Inside of the Capitol’s dome. It’s taller than the one in DC…cause everything is bigger in Texas.

Schofield was kind enough to set up a one of the private tours of the Texas State Capitol for my extended family, but upon hearing just how large the group was going to be, his aide couldn’t help but blurt, “Wait…so how many of these people are actually in his district?”

Like 3 of the 35 okay, but if you just shut up and give us this tour those 3 will be voting for your boss again so CHILLAX.

Anyway.

Texas Trooper Grad free Tours of the Texas State Capitol texas state capitol parking

His first arrest.

Our chipper guide Erin greeted us in the atrium (p. sure her name was Erin. If not, she really looked like one) and took us on a roughly 30 minute jaunt (one of the many tours of the Texas state Capitol she does daily), but random people kept butting into our tour and with 35 people already trying to hear just one guide, you can’t have any interlopers. Hence the convo above.

If you aren’t convinced that Texas really is the greatest state in the Union, you will be after you see its Capitol building. Matthew McConaughey even narrates the film in the visitor’s center.

Alright.

Alright.

Alright.

Texas Capitol free Tours of the Texas State Capitol texas state capitol parking

Quick Tips for taking tours of the Texas State Capitol: 

  • Call ahead if you have a big group. You can go through your state rep as well.
  • Parking for tours of the Texas State Capitol is at 1201 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, Texas 78701. More info here.
  • Plan to spend about an hour or so wandering the Capitol and grounds after your tour, since it’s really just the highlights.
  • Keep your eyes OPEN for Pancake, the first puppy of Texas. The first reader who spots her gets a prize.
Texas House of Representatives free Tours of the Texas State Capitol texas state capitol parking

Inside the Texas House of Representatives chamber. Unlike in DC, they let you take pictures. Cause Texans are way nicer.

Texas State Senate free Tours of the Texas State Capitol texas state capitol parking

The Texas Senate Room. I really just took this picture to show off my braid though.

After taking one of the tours of the Texas State Capitol, consider driving up to Lake Travis to check out the Oasis. It’s a mini-town of restaurants and shops right on the edge of the lake with a killer view of the Texas sunset.

10/10 would recommend mostly for the view and not as much for the food. We went the night before for my brother in law’s trooper graduation.

Oasis Austin Patio View where to eat in Austin best places to eat in austin places to eat lake travis

View from the Oasis on Lake Travis, Texas

Oasis Austin View Oasis Austin Patio View where to eat in Austin best places to eat in austin places to eat lake travis

Cousins take in the scenery.

Oasis Sunset View Oasis Austin Patio View where to eat in Austin best places to eat in austin places to eat lake travis

all ~*dramatic*~ and stuff watching the sunset.

Oasis Austin Patio Oasis Austin Patio View where to eat in Austin best places to eat in austin places to eat lake travis

The Oasis is a great place for selfies.

Have you been to Austin?

I hadn’t been in over ten years and am kicking myself for missing out. I’m heading back soon.

  • Pin it:

Free Texas Capitol Pin

Follow:

If you like pretty flowers and ogling the homes of the insanely wealthy, then Azalea Trail Houston is perfect for you.

Azalea Trail Tickets Each March, residents of Houston’s exclusive River Oaks neighborhood (in association with the River Oaks Garden Club) open portions of their homes and gardens to the public for education and enjoyment. Guests can bask in the beauty of manicured lawns, the perfume of freshly bloomed flowers, and the wonder of echoing mansions.

The historic house and art museums of Bayou Bend and the Rienzi are an annual inclusion, as well as the Forum of Civics Building Tour which functions as a hub for “plant education.” The private homes available to tour vary from year to year.

The purpose of the Azalea Trail Houston, the first inception of which was in 1935, is to teach visitors about architecture, flower arranging, and the horticultural possibilities in the South Texas region.. Proceeds from the Azalea Trail Houston are donated towards community projects like horticultural education, conversation, and civil beautification.

See also: 

Here are some photo highlights:

Azalea Trail Flowers Azalea Trail Display Azalea Trail Houston River Oaks Garden Club Azalea Trail Display Azalea Trail Houston River Oaks Garden Club Azalea Trail Display Azalea Trail Houston River Oaks Garden Club Azalea Trail Garden Azalea Trail Display Azalea Trail Houston River Oaks Garden Club Azalea Trail house Azalea Trail Display Azalea Trail Houston River Oaks Garden Club Azalea Trail Display Azalea Trail Houston River Oaks Garden Club Houston Azalea Trail Length

I wouldn’t consider myself a plant buff. I just like looking at pretty flowers. In fact, which I toured the Royal Gardens in Saint Andrews, Scotland with my sister, our Cambridge-educated guide kept getting very technical when all I wanted to do was quite literally stop and smell the roses.

But the Azalea Trail Houston was a blast. Mainly because I got to see the insides of homes I can’t even afford in my dreams. But the flowers were pretty great, too.

Interested in checking out the River Oaks Garden Club Azalea Trail? You should be! Here’s how to make it awesome:

Quick Tips for the Azalea Trail Houston:

  • Go on Friday

Azalea Trail Display Azalea Trail Houston River Oaks Garden Club Azalea Trail Garden House The Azaela Trail Houston runs for three days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. My mom, sister and I went on Friday thinking we could knock it out, but we got so caught up in the flowers and mansions that we didn’t finish looking at everything, so we returned on Saturday and most of the lines were considerably longer.

  • Pack a lunch

Azalea Trail Display Azalea Trail Houston River Oaks Garden Club Houston Azalea Trail Display Pop a cooler in the car with a few sandwiches and water bottles. The serious case of home-envy you’ll get will work up an appetite, but stopping for lunch can take a big chunk out of your day–especially if you want to see everything in one day!

  • “Go” before you Go

Azalea Trail Display Azalea Trail Houston River Oaks Garden Club River Oaks Garden Club Forum

You obviously can’t use the bathroom at the private homes on the trail (creepy much?), so if you find yourself in need of a potty, try St. John’s Episcopal on River Oaks Boulevard or the Forum of Civics Building.

  • Parking is a Breeze

Azalea Trail Display Azalea Trail Houston River Oaks Garden Club Houston Azalea Trail River Oaks is still a neighborhood after all, so parking for the Azalea Trail Houston is a breeze. Most of the homes are usually within walking distance of each other as well, so if prefer to leave your car, that’s fine.

Azalea Trail Houston tickets vary in price and can be purchased at many locations around the city. For more information on exact prices and dates, check out the River Oaks Garden Club website here.

The dress I’m wearing is from Dress Barn. 

  • Pin it:

Azalea Trail Azalea Trail Display Azalea Trail Houston River Oaks Garden Club

**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item via these links (or in the same session) I get some cash money, at no extra cost to you. You can learn more in my Privacy Policy

Follow:

The NFL Experience is definitly an event for people who like football.

I’m the worst Texan ever.

Seriously y’all: I only drink sweet tea occasionally, my two-step could use some serious workshopping, and I hate football.

So it took me a little bit to get excited about Houston hosting Super Bowl LI.

See also: 

Houston NFL Experience

worshiping at the altar of the NFL as soon as I found out Chris Evans would be in Houston

BUT as soon as the Patriots made the cut I got real excited real fast because we all know that Christopher Robert Evans lives and breathes Patriots football.

I’m on a tight budget these days and couldn’t afford to get tickets to the actual game (nor do I think I could actually force myself to sit through it) or cool “exclusive” events around town, but I did head to the NFL Experience Houston with my sister for some major celebrity stalking.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t see Chris. But I did meet Eddie Redmayne one time.

See also: 

Quick Tip: always take public transport (or park far away an Uber in) to Super Bowl Events, no matter the city. 

Houston NFL Experience

Houston gets hyped

Houston NFL Experience

Houston gets even more hyped

My sister had the genius idea to take the Houston Metro bus into downtown which saved us $25 (minimum — they were straight up gouging people on parking places) and the relationship-ending fight that would’ve been born out of Super Bowl traffic.

However, once people got out of their cars, the foot traffic around Discovery Green wasn’t too bad and we were able to wander and take in the ~*NFL Experience Houston*~ without feeling suffocated.

As someone who doesn’t like football, the pressure for accomplishing anything at the event was low and I was actually able to have a great time — although y’all KNOW I was on high alert for Chris Evans at all times.

Houston Super Bowl NFL Experience

Sisterly Bonding (after not fighting cause we took the bus)

Quick Tip: if you decide to attend the NFL Experience in your own city, go Monday — Thursday to avoid the crowds.

There were a lot of NFL heavyweights there (but I didn’t know who any of them were, so I can’t really report back on that part of the Superbowl experience — my bad y’all) filming TV spots for later in the week, a field goal contest, and the best part (since I didn’t end up finding Chris Evans) a satellite PUPPY BOWL.

Check these pups:

puppy bowl houston

puppppieees

And this kicker:

Houston NFL Experience

I didn’t even bother to wait in line for this nonsense

There were also a few cool art installations sprinkled throughout Houston’s Discovery Green Park, including a line of humongous NFL helmet replicas from each team.

My sister picked the Cowboys because she’s married to their biggest fan, while I went for the Packers because if Harry Styles likes them, they must be the best.

Green Bay Packers Houston Texas

Go pack goooooo

Cowboys Houston Texas Super Bowl

Maybe they’ll give her a ring next year…

Houston is also home to NASA (like our only claim to fame…wait no, we have Beyonce), so the Space City’s upcoming programs were fully on display at the NFL Experience Houston.

I’m not a STEM person, but my sister was in heaven as an engineer. She had a field day talking to the NASA team and learning all about the future of space travel and research.

Houston NASA Super Bowl

we <3 NASA

We ended our night at the Superbowl Experience rushing back to the bus stop on the OTHER side of downtown Houston from the festivities after a quick munch stop at a local grocery store.

Quick Tip: Never eat at events like the NFL experience. It’s way too much. Also pee at a store before you get there. 

Houston Texas Super Bowl

pretending we are pumped

I rooted for the Patriots in Super Bowl LI because they also won in 2015 and I got the day off school because of it — so I feel like I am in their debt. It was my senior year of college and I went to Mount Holyoke in South Hadley, MA. They’re real serious about football up there guys.

See also: 

 

  • Pin It:

NFL Experience Houston

Follow: