Monday, January 23, 2012

"Aliens Have Landed on Pensacola Beach"

I bet that was the headline of the Pensacola Beach newspaper the day the Futuro UFO house first appeared in town. 
At least it would have been if I was in charge of the newspaper.

It's a prefabricated, fiberglass home built on a 1968 design by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen, according to Roadside America, built to lift up and float in case of a flood.
This little landmark was lowered onto its spot on the north side of Via de Luna Drive by helicopter in the late '60's, and has ridden out at least two hurricanes.

Several of these UFO homes were made by a Finnish company called Oy Polykem. 
Called the "Futuro II", they had a single bedroom, bathroom, U-shaped kitchen area, separate dining area, a curved 23-ft. couch and a central fireplace that doubled as a grill.

There was so much interest in the house from yesterday's post that I thought it deserved its own piece. Pensacola Beach is full of beautiful pastel beach homes, but this is the one I look for each time we visit. 
Maybe next time I'll ask for a tour... 

Those aliens look pretty friendly, don't they?

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Way back in December, we went to Florida.

There's this wall of graffiti we pass on our way to Pensacola Beach. 
I knew it was ahead, knew we would be passing it. and I had my camera ready. 
But we passed it so fast I barely had time to snap this photo.

That's how life is these days - I try to cover so much ground that I blink and the day is behind me.

I need to stop and take time for a closer look.

...not just watch the scenery flash by through the window...

Do you do this, too?
I hope I'm not the only one.

Anyway, that's why I haven't shared these photos with you until now.
Heck, I've barely looked at them myself!

(To be continued... we did eventually stop!)

Monday, January 16, 2012

An Afternoon of Country Dogs

This afternoon our neighbor came calling... and with him, his four dogs. 

Of course, I had my camera.

Left to right, Bear, Ocho, Haley, Belle and Buster. 
Max must have been keeping his distance, lagging behind.
Smart dog.

Belle loves all the company.

Haley is back to almost her pre-hit-by-the-truck self! 
Very affectionate today, giving me and Tom lots of sugar!

I couldn't catch the little ones in my camera, but I snapped a good one of Bear...

...and this one of our neighbor Andy having a private conversation with Haley.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The One She Chose...

Ah... it was so much fun tromping around Austin, photographing wedding venues the past couple of weeks!

Thank you to all of you who voiced your first picks!
The last venue, Vista West Ranch, won with you, hands down.

Alas, when all things were considered, such as having to travel down miles and miles of twisty, turny Hill Country roads (and guests having to drive back to hotels miles away down dark twisty, turny Hill Country roads after a celebratory drink or two), it was the second favorite of the future bride.

Her first pick?
Barr Mansion, the first venue I visited.
The one with the gingerbread woodwork, wrap-around porches and fans hanging from the trees.

It has that country feel but it's just minutes from downtown Austin, convenient to hotels and restaurants... and closer to our house!

 Also the bride and her sister can easily put their special touches on it... centerpieces, lighting, and other ideas gleaned from Pinterest... 
But I think the true selling point is the rose garden that will be in full bloom at the time of the wedding.

I confess, despite the photo-mania I fell into at Vista West Ranch, the Barr Mansion was my favorite. 
I just can't resist those porches and that huge oak tree... and can already envision those love birds there, walking hand-in-hand.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Weddings, Texas Style

Continuing the Wedding Adventure..

the last venue we visited was out in the hill country, down miles of zig-zaggy country roads and over a one-lane low-water crossing: 

Vista West Ranch a few miles outside of Dripping Springs.

If you want a "country" wedding, this is the spot for you!

Very "rust"ic! (hehehe)

We timed our visit just right to experience a mini wedding extravaganza! 
Decorations and vendors were everywhere.

I went kind of camera crazy, as you'll see from my photos, and yet I still managed to grab business cards, sip a glass of wine, and nibble on custom mini-cupcakes, yummy crabby cakes and other sample wedding fare.

Now, after our tour of wedding venues, tell me which one you liked the best in the comments below.

(Look back over the past three or four posts to see the rest.)

In my next post, I'll reveal The One She Chose.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Weddings on the Mind...

On Sunday I met my future daughter-in-law downtown to visit a few more potential wedding venues. 

I was happy she asked me to tag along with her... 

...and happy she didn't mind me randomly snapping photos.

The first stop was The Mansion on Judges' Hill, a beautiful old home situated not too far from the University of Texas campus.

I've passed it often and hoped for a peek inside.

And I finally got it!

Unfortunately, I was busy listening to our host sharing information about weddings and didn't get any shots inside the old house, which is a shame because it was just as I imagined it, full of beautiful Victorian details.

All of the above were taken in the other buildings which include the hotel and event center... also very beautiful, but lacking the history of the old home. 

Except for these crape myrtle trees, above, planted by the original owner's daughter in 1900. 

The next stop was the AT&T Guest Center on the University of Texas campus.
My FDIL promised her dad she'd take a look - he's a UT grad and bleeds orange.

She, however, is a Texas Tech grad. 
There was just too much burnt orange splashed around this place for her comfort.

"Ring out the old, ring in the new, ring out the false, ring in the true." ~ Tennyson

Our next stop was just down the highway and out a few twisty roads from Austin... perfect for a pure Texas wedding.
I'll post those photos tomorrow... 

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Fence, Explored

I'm writing a book. 
Well, actually two books, just bouncing back and forth between them.
I'm trying to keep up with two blogs - one for my overflowing words, one for my overflowing photographs.
I'm trying to get three businesses off the ground... personal history, photography and jewelry.

Naturally, FlickR fell a few places in my priorities.
But I haven't let go. I don't post often, but I still love it. 

This week I posted the photo above... 
Today I found out it was chosen for Explore.

There are no monetary awards with Explore, but each time one of my photos is selected, I feel like I've won the lottery.
Thank you, Explore People!
(To understand why I feel so honored, click HERE to see some of the other photos that were selected on January 3rd!)

And as if that wasn't enough,
Hilary of The Smitten Image picked this as one of the

(Click on the image to see the other Posts of the Week selections.)

Thank you so much, Hilary!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Weddings and Texas History... two of my favorite things!

On Monday I tagged along with my son and his future bride, checking out two possible venues for their upcoming wedding. 
First stop, the Barr Mansion, posted earlier this week.

As promised, here are photos from the second venue... the historic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin, one of my absolute favorite places because of its history and magnificent architecture... 
(despite the rumors of resident ghosts!) 

I've already posted here and here about the Driskill... but I was even more blatant with my camera this time.

Above, the front lobby.

The Driskill is elegant, rich with stars and Texas pride, but it's also very dark. 
I did my best with what I have...

The details in the light fixtures are amazing!

So much "Texas" everywhere. I love it!

Did you know "Texas" means "friends"? 

Lady Bird Johnson met LBJ in the Driskill Ballroom.

This is the actual wedding reception floor... a giant T-shaped hall with parlours and ballrooms, such as the Driskill Ballroom, opening off of it and a balcony overlooking 6th Street on the opposite end. 
Again, very dark! 
You'll just have to take my word for it... it's beautiful!

This mirror is one of several hanging in the "Maximilian Room" that Emperor Maximilian of Mexico gave to his Empress Carlota.

I have no idea what's behind these doors but I love them! 
Such beautiful leaded glass.

The engaged couple graciously posed for me...

...but I couldn't resist snapping this one soon afterward. 

Makes my heart sigh.