— Feathers and Wax

After the floodwaters receded from Hurricane Harvey and we finally ventured out to see people, one of the first conversations I had over a beer that night was with a stagehand at the Wortham Theater Center. He did not mince words. Water levels up to the stage. Storage rooms full of costumes, wigs and supplies below that level: ruined. This season of opera and ballet: extremely delayed.

Most of the theaters in downtown Houston were flooded by the storm, and many have had to delay their seasons. But the Wortham was by far the hardest hit, being situated right next to the Buffalo Bayou. Soon the official announcements came that the theater wouldn’t open its doors again until May — at the earliest. The Houston Ballet scrambled to secure performance dates at established fine arts venues, while Houston Grand Opera opted to think outside the box.

I had the pleasure of attending their dress rehearsal of “Julius Caesar” last night at the George R. Brown Convention Center, dubbed the “HGO Resilience Theater.”

Read on for what it’s like to see the opera in a convention center!

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Ok so technically I “hiked up” the mountain, there wasn’t any real climbing gear involved. But this is still a GIANT deal for non-outdoorsy me, so just let me have it.

After spending that rainy day in Shirakawago, the weather cleared up and we were able to embark on our roughly six-hour hike up and down Mount Yakedake in the Japanese Alps, which is technically also an active volcano. We got up very early in the morning, packed some snacks and water and took a bus ride to the foot of the mountain.

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There’s a kind of unique delight and appreciation for all kinds of animals in Japanese culture — but especially the cute ones. With that in mind it’s not all that surprising that in addition to the proliferation of cat, owl and  hedgehog cafes found throughout the country, there are also several locations in Japan that serve as refuges for specific breeds of animals. There is a bunny island, a cat island, a monkey park and even a fox village. Get thee to youtube to see videos of all these adorable wonders.

But perhaps most famous of all is the town of Nara, which is home to more than 1,200 sika deer that are technically wild animals, but are so used to humans that they walk right up to you. Especially if you buy the deer biscuits sold on practically every corner.

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The first leg of our trip to Japan was a few days spent in Kyoto, the former capital, and, as I would find out, the country’s most picturesque and charming city.  Here we visited a few ancient temples and the Nijo Castle, saw dozens of beautiful women in colorful yukatas and even spotted a handful of modern-day geishas.

We also took a quick day trip to the Yamazaki whiskey distillery, which Fred was quite excited about, and practically ate our weight in matcha ice cream, which I was quite excited about.

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We came back from our two-week trip to Japan on Sunday and have been slowly getting back into our normal routine so far this week. But I’m already experiencing Japan withdrawals, and have ended up spending my jetlagged early mornings searching for good Japanese restaurants in Houston.

As friends ask me what my favorite part of the trip was my thoughts keep going to our visit on a rainy day to the tiny village of Shirakawa-go, which felt like walking around in something from a mythical legend.

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We’re going to Japan for two full weeks next month! This will surely be my biggest travel adventure yet, and I’m so happy that it will be with Fred (yay!), my good friends Maki and Zach, and yet another great couple, Rick and Jessie.

I’m already heavily into preparation and packing list mode, but I’m so looking forward to this trip that I’m constantly looking up photos of the places we’re visiting to swoon over while I’m at work. Join me!

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I’ve had such a busy week and can’t believe it’s almost over! Work has been intense and Fred and I also front-loaded our week with lots of fun activities and time with friends. So after I help a friend move tomorrow I might take a bit of a breather for the rest of the weekend and unwind. It’s all about balance.

For now, here’s some photos from a picnic we had with friends a few days ago, starring Beaux the adorable black lab puppy. *swoon*

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This month I’ve been feeling really motivated and creative and I’ve been getting back into enjoying all different kinds of goodness in my life, like making music, exercising and spending time with good friends.

I’m really digging bold, happy graphic design in super bright colors right now. Read on for some of my faves, and maybe you’ll catch my good mood!

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I took a break from blogging in June, partly because life was getting pretty crazy with travel, family plans and work assignments. Things are finally slowing down, I’m getting back into my favorite routines and I’m finally able to enjoy these long summer days.

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately…

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Fred and I have gotten kind of addicted to taking small trips to celebrate our birthdays. This year we went to Marfa for his, and last year we went to New Orleans for mine.

So when Fred was able to get a few days off in June we went for it and booked flights to Nashville.

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