Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself (& Don’t Give Up)

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This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is “Express Yourself.”

I chose a picture of Austin taken recently, with a simple message that everyone should consider all along the New Year: never give up.

[You can enlarge the picture by clicking on it]

Bridge in Austin, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Easier said than done? Maybe. Still, if you have a dream, and you are ready to work hard to reach it and focus on what’s most important in your life, you have all your chances. But you must never give up.

Texas and Austin were the doors to what I really wanted to do. I never thought they could be, but they were. I looked for those doors though, and pushed them when I found them. I never gave up.

To quote Ayn Rand: “Don’t ever give up what you want in life. The struggle is worth it.”

Are you actively pursuing your happiness? I am, everyday of my life.

Happy New Year 2015 (It’s Not Too Late!)

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In France, the tradition is that you have until the end of January to send your best wishes for the New Year.

Consequently, I still wanted to post my best wishes of health, wealth, and happiness to all my readers for 2015.

More regular posting will should resume in the days to come :-)

2015 Wishes from Austin, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, VA… at Christmas Time

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In my last few days spent in North Virginia/DC, I was lucky to have my Mom join me there and come back with me on the road trip back to Texas.

Our first stop on the road was actually the occasion to see an old time friend. This very good friend had booked us at the Jefferson Hotel for a nigh. A wonderful Christmas gift!

The Jefferson Hotel is a gorgeous Beaux-Arts style, luxury hotel that opened in 1895. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Thirteen American Presidents stayed there, as well as personalities such as Henry James, Elvis Presley, or Frank Sinatra.

The hotel is featured in several movies and a rumor says that its grand staircase inspired the author of Gone With the Wind for the description of the novel’s staircase.

That was my second time at this hotel (both times thanks to my friend, that I want to thank wholeheartedly!). This time, the hotel was decorated for Christmas.

Jefferson Hotel - Richmond, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

View of the Palm Court Lobby and the statue of Thomas Jefferson – December 2014

Jefferson Hotel - Richmond, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Statue of Thomas Jefferson – December 2014

Jefferson Hotel - Richmond, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Santa’s (gingerbread) Workshop – December 2014

Jefferson Hotel - Richmond, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Nativity Scene – December 2014

Jefferson Hotel - Richmond, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Statue of Thomas Jefferson in the Palm Court Lobby – December 2014

Jefferson Hotel - Richmond, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Jefferson Hotel - Richmond, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Grand staircase – December 2014

Jefferson Hotel - Richmond, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas in Alexandria, VA: The Scottish Christmas Walk

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The day before leaving to head to Richmond, and later Texas, the city of Alexandria in north Virginia was hosting its annual Scottish Christmas Walk. Dozens of Scottish clansmen paraded the streets of Old Town Alexandria, some with their bagpipes.

Even Santa was there, playing the bagpipe!

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Christmas Walk 2014 - Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas in Texas: Johnson City’s Christmas Lights

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One of the things I like about Christmas is that, while gloomy weather starts to settle in December, the Christmas lights and decorations give us a respite by making the streets and our homes look magical, full of light, colors, and warmth.

Christmas is behind us though, but we still have until New Year’s Eve to fly those lights and colors. As a consequence, here are a few pictures of Christmas decorations from Johnson City, TX.

Johnson City was founded by James Polk Johnson, an uncle of former President Lyndon B. Johnson. The city, located about 50 miles west of Austin, was also LBJ’s hometown. You can learn more about the history of this city here.

Johnson City isn’t a terribly big city, but it puts on a giant light show for Christmas. Here are some images of its 2014 decorations.

[You can click on any picture to enlarge it]

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Johnson City Spectacular Lights - Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Merry Christmas Y’All!

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Three months have passed and I haven’t posted anything. It’s not for a lack of anything to post about: I have spent the last three months around Maryland, Washington DC, and North Virginia, and I am now back in Austin, TX. But some things do take priorities in life, such as work. Yes, yes it does, because I love what I am doing. But that is a subject for another post maybe.

I still want to stop by today and wish everyone of you a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. Here are just a few pictures of Christmas celebrations from the DC area and Texas!

I hope y’all have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas!

Christmas tree in a shopping mall in North Virginia | Book, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas tree in a shopping mall in North Virginia – December 2014

Old Town Alexandria, VA | Book, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

A store in Old Town Alexandria, VA – December 2014

Old Town Alexandria, VA | Book, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas decorations in Old Town Alexandria, VA – December 2014

Scottish Christmas Parade in Alexandria, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Scottish Santa at the Scottish Christmas Parade in Alexandria, VA – December 2014

Old Town Alexandria, VA | Book, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

A decorated house in Old Town Alexandria, VA – December 2014

Old Town Alexandria, VA | Book, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

A decorated business building in Old Town Alexandria, VA – December 2014

Jefferson Hotel - Richmond, VA | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas tree at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, VA – December 2014

Capitol in Austin, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas tree in front of the Capitol in Austin, TX – December 2014

Capitol in Austin, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas tree in front of the Capitol in Austin, TX – December 2014

Christmas Lights in Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas Lights in Johnson City, TX – December 2014

Christmas Lights in Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas Lights in Johnson City, TX – December 2014

Christmas Lights in Johnson City, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas Lights in Johnson City, TX – December 2014

Riverwalk at Christmas time in San Antonio, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX – December 2014

The Alamo at Christmas time in San Antonio, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas tree in front of the Alamo, in San Antonio, TX – December 2014

Christmas tree in front of the Alamo at Christmas time in San Antonio, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Christmas tree in front of the Alamo, in San Antonio, TX – December 2014

Spring in the Hill Country: Wildseed Farms – Part 3

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In the first part of this series, we talked Texas bluebonnets, and in the second part, a variety of other wildflowers. In this third and last part, I just want to share something we ran into before seeing the natural fields of Texas bluebonnets showcased in part 1.

We were visiting Fredericksburg and the area, when we discovered a flower shop that was quite unusual. Wildseed Farms is growing wildflowers on a very large scale.

Wildseed Farms near Fredericksburg,TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Imagine our astonishment, as we were first discovering the beauty that is spring in the Texas Hill Country.

Wildseed Farms near Fredericksburg,TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Additionally, and something quite unconventional when you come from France, the owners of the farms let people go around and take pictures in the fields, without asking for purchase.

Wildseed Farms near Fredericksburg,TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

White Wing Shiner @ Wildseed Farms near Fredericksburg,TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

The place is also a very nice place to relax, read a book, or have a drink (or all of these!).

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime – As You Like It

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It’s been a while since I participated in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is nighttime.

I, too, take few pictures by night because I do not master the technique and as a result, those I take are often disappointing.

But here are a few I took with my iPhone this past spring. They were taken at Zilker Park in Austin, during a representation of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, by Austin Shakespeare (which I highly recommend!).

Shakespeare's As You Like It by Austin Shakespeare | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Shakespeare's As You Like It by Austin Shakespeare | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Shakespeare's As You Like It by Austin Shakespeare | Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Spring in the Hill Country Part – 2

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Wildflowers - Hill Country, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cakes Chasing Chipmunks

In Part 1, I showed you the beautiful Texas bluebonnets covering the region. Today, I have a selection of some of the wildflowers I saw and was able to take a picture of.

They vary according to the date and area. I have never before seen such a variety.

And this is what my yard looked like at the time:

Wildflowers - Hill Country, TX | Books, Cupcakes, and Cakes Chasing Chipmunks

Last part on spring in the Hill Country will take us to another, particular field of bluebonnets.