Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers

Since our latest addition arrived, I’ve started taking her for regular walks around my condo complex and I can’t help but notice the wide variety of flowers that bloom in our neighborhood. So I decided to capture them with my camera. So lovely!

My Favorite Food Trucks of Trucklandia 2014, Austin’s Food Truck Festival

I’m not going to rank these trucks in any particular order. I think the act of comparing these trucks and trying to say which one is “better” is ridiculous and impossible. The foods and personalities represented by these trucks vary far too much and are the fabulous that they are because of their individuality and uniqueness. Instead I have provided a list of simply created a list of my favorites.


Cow Tipping Creamery is not your typical ice cream. For starters, they make soft serve, which is, like, 1000 times better than ice cream anyway. Plus, the flavors and toppings are not typical either. In fact, the flavors you’ll get here are outstanding and truly unexpected. This is one of my favorite food trucks and definitely my favorite ice cream in Austin.

Even though Bow Wow Bones doesn’t really make food for humans, you can still eat it. And to tell the truth, it’s really not that bad. But your dog is going to love it! Want to do something for your furry friend? Take them to Bow Wow Bones and get a cookie or a doggy ice cream treat.

Make no mistake. Valentina’s Tex Mex serves up one of the best meat tacos in all of Austin and that’s beating out a lot of noteworthy places. But it’s true. The brisket barbecue taco will blow your sock off. It makes the perfect late night snack!

Chef Eric at Hey You Gonna Eat or What? is truly an artist of food. His Monte Cristo sandwich is quite possibly the best sandwich in all of Austin and certainly the best Monte Cristo I’ve ever eaten, ever, anywhere. This adorable little food truck is now located in Picnic food park on Barton Springs, which provides a lovely, casual dining atmosphere. Surprise a friend and treat a friend to this delicious sandwich!

Definitely the best burger in Austin, Svante’s Stuffed Burger grow their own grass-fed beef. That’s great! But the stuffing of the burger will melt your brains into your mouth. The strong cheese flavors combined with the sweet space jam, this burger surpasses every expectation I’ve ever had for what a burger could be. If you’re a carnivorous burger-lover, this place should top your list.


Did you attend Trucklandia? What were your favorite food trucks from this year’s festival? Have you tried one of the trucks above? If so, what did you think? Please comment in the section below. I look forward to hearing about your experience.

How I Almost Died

How I Almost Died

How I Almost Died or Ixchel Cherandon’s Birth Story

Warning! This post contains graphic imagery & nudity!

On Sunday, December 11th, I gave birth to my second baby, at home, in water, without medical intervention. It was a gloriously intense experience, exactly what I had wanted, minus the pain of course, that is until something went horribly wrong. We’ll get to that, but first, the beginning…
She was officially due on December 10th, but that day my water broke instead, a slow trickle all day long. Fun! I tried going to bed early that night but just couldn’t sleep. I even tried a Benadryl and a glass of wine. Nope. Anxiety, maybe? Eventually, I fell asleep around 3am and woke up just after 7am to a strange feeling in my lower belly. Was baby just moving? I couldn’t tell for sure. I tried to let my partner, Brandon, sleep more, but then about 7:30am, contractions hit hard and I started to moan uncontrollably. Brandon woke up and started counting. Yep! This was it. My contractions were suddenly 1.5 to 2 minutes apart and midwives were on their way.

A side note about our midwives: We hired Chylain Krevinsky (www.HamsaBirth.com) to be our midwife and lucky us, she brought along her assistant midwife Deb Bruin (www.tinytreebirthservices.com). Given my strong preference for a hands-off approach to birth, it proved fairly challenging to find a midwife that I felt comfortable with. Luckily, we not only felt comfortable with Chylain and Deb, but I feel like we even became friends. These gals were amazingly helpful and completely respectful of my wishes as a new mother and patient. Midwives are amazing and their true value can’t be replaced by a doctor. Midwives are special. They know things doctors don’t and they provide a healthy dose of support for your mental well-being. If you’re considering a birth, I encourage you to meet lots of midwives until you find one you really like, one who’s on the same page as you. Not only did these gals make my pregnancy and birth experience better, but I believe they saved my life. I can’t thank them enough or recommend them more.

Ouch! The contractions were strong, so, I lumbered to our tiny bath tub to sit in some warm water while Brandon started filling the much deeper birth pool downstairs. There is nothing like warm water to take the edge off the pain of birth contractions. I am honestly not sure I could take the pain without being in warm water.

Whew! Within an hour, my midwife Chylain arrived and I moved from the bath tub to the giant birth pool in the middle of my living room. I expected to be there a while. Last time I gave birth, I had intense contractions on and off for nine days. But not this time. In fact, everything went super fast. From first contraction to first breath was less than four hours. A huge contrast to my first birth.
Throughout labor, Brandon stayed by my side. His voice soothed me and helped me maintain control despite the pain. I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful and attentive partner. He’ll be an amazing father, I’m certain.
It was super important to me for Daddy to catch our baby. Unlike some new dads, Brandon had been highly involved in everything. He was such an integral part of the pregnancy process for me, and it felt right that he should be first to hold her.
At 11:06am, Brandon lifted our little one from the water. He said, “it’s a girl!” and our midwife carefully unwrapped the cord.
After Brandon placed her on my chest, I sat with her for nearly forty-five minutes. She was amazing and completely covered in new baby goop. So new to the world, her eyes were barely opened. We patiently awaited the placenta, but it didn’t come.
I was still having some light contractions but the placenta had not yet come. And then I hemorrhaged a significant amount of blood. So, I pushed and my midwife gently tugged, but the placenta still wouldn’t come out. Finally, the cord snapped. With help, I climbed out of the tub and laid on my back on a small pad covering my carpet. Yes, silly me, I was worried about getting blood on my carpet. I love that thing and it took me a few years to find such a brightly colored rug at a reasonable price.

My midwife explained that my placenta was not detaching, that she needed to reach inside me with her hand and try to grab the placenta. It was going to hurt. A lot. I can’t remember if I screamed or not, but it definitely felt like I did. Let’s just say, I’m absolutely, unquestionably not into fisting. Nope! Not my thing!

So, my midwife called 911 so I could be transferred to the hospital.

Luckily, the fire station is just down the street and the EMTs arrived in less than 3 minutes. Baby, Daddy and Deb, rode in the car to the hospital. Chylain went with me in the ambulance where Marie the EMT made several more failed attempts to coax the placenta out. She pounced down on my abdomen sending a blast of blood shooting out of me. Bless her heart! She was covered in my blood. Who knew a placenta could be so stubborn!

With each attempt, I hemorrhaged even more blood. In total, I lost an estimated 3000 ml of blood, which is about a 3rd of the body’s blood during pregnancy. Everyone was most shocked that I never passed out or lost consciousness. Best we can figure, that’s because I generally operate on a very low pressure, something like 80s over 50s. Low.

Inside the ambulance and in the hospital, everyone seemed quite surprised at how I had not lost consciousness with so much blood loss. I guess losing half your body’s blood generally knocks a person out, but not me!
Just before putting me under, the doc made another attempt to remove the placenta with her hands. This meant shoving an arm inside my uterus yet again. It didn’t work, but it certainly hurt. Then she says I’ll need surgery. Worst case scenario, they’ll have to perform a hysterectomy. Oh dear! My worst fear. Leaving the hospital one organ short. Thank god that didn’t happen. They were able to remove the placenta and give me a blood transfusion. I would eventually heal up and be my old self again, uterus intact. I woke up in recovery and less than 2 hours after leaving her side, Brandon was there with our new baby girl. Weak and extremely low on blood, I started breastfeeding her shortly after waking up.
Despite ending up in a hospital I still feel that my home birth was successful. I wanted our baby to be born at home, in water, without medical intervention. And she was. I’d say it was a huge success. I have some amazing people to thank for that. My endlessly supportive partner Brandon was there throughout my pregnancy every step of the way. Peace of mind was provided by our amazing midwives, Chylain Krevinsky and Deb Bruin. I want them there for all my future births, which I hope are all at home in water surrounded by the people who matter most to me.
Special thanks to Deb Bruin, our awesome assistant midwife, who graciously took all the birth photos you see on this page. She did such an amazing job!

Chylain Krevinsky LM, CPM – www.HamsaBirth.com

Deb Bruin – www.tinytreebirthservices.com

My US Travel Bucket List

My US Travel Bucket List

One of my goals is to visit all of the states in the United States at least once. In order for a visit to count, I must visit some place within the state boundaries other than the airport or train station. Pretty simple.

Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve made almost no progress on my travel goals in the past few years and it’s time to change that. My travel bucket list is admittedly huge, but it’s the journey that counts. So, I’ve decided just to focus on the U.S. list for the next year and cross some of these local places off the list.

To be honest, I’m far less excited about visiting any place in the United States. Europe is where it’s at for me right now. Plus, I admit, some U.S. states have actually managed to completely turn me off with their politics and/or culture. For example, some of the Southern states still run rich with racial tension. The air is thick with hate, and honestly, I don’t like being around it.

However, I do still have an overall goal of visiting all of the United States and have quite a few to go. So, why visit those places first and get them out of the way.

Here’s where I’m at…    I’ve visited 22 of 50 states so far and I’m hoping to hit Colorado next.

U.S. States I’ve Visited

Visited 22 out of 50

Visited States in Pink
States Not Visited in Green



  • Denali National Park
  • Gates of the Artctic
  • Glacier Bay National Park  (UNESCO)
  • Katmai National Park
  • Kenai Fjords National Park
  • Lake Clark National Park
  • Wrangell – St. Elias National Park (UNESCO)
  • Take an Alaskan cruise and see the glaciers


  • Grand Canyon National Park (UNESCO)
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Saguaro National Park


  • Hot Springs National Park


  • Channel Islands National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Kings Canyon National Park
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Pinnacles National Park
  • Redwood National Park (UNESCO)
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Yosemite National Park (UNESCO)


  • Explore the Denver Zoo
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park
  • Mesa Verde National Park (UNESCO)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park




  • Biscayne National Park
  • Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Everglades National Park (UNESCO)
  • Kayak to Mound Key Archaeological State Park, a Native American-made shell island



  • Haleakala National Park
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (UNESCO)


  • Yellowstone National Park (UNESCO)


  • Cahokia (UNESCO)


  • Ride the world’s largest water coaster at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana.




  • Mammoth Cave National Park (UNESCO)


  • Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point (UNESCO)


  • Visit Acadia National Park




  • Isle Royale National Park


  • Voyagers National Park



  • Play at St. Louis’s whimsical City Museum
  • Dive in the Bonne Terre Mine in Missouri


  • Glacier National Park
  • Yellowstone National Park (UNESCO)



  • Death Valley National Park
  • Great Basin National Park
  • Participate in Burning Man

 New Hampshire

 New Jersey

 New Mexico

  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park (UNESCO)
  • Taos Pueblo (UNESCO)
  • Chaco Culture National Historical Park  (UNESCO)

 New York

  • Niagara Falls, New York
  • Statue of Libery in New York  (UNESCO)
  • Attend a broadway musical, Manhattan, New York, New York

 North Carolina

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (UNESCO)

 North Dakota

  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park


  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park



  • Crater Lake National Park


  • Visit Independence Hall in Pennsylvania where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776

 Rhode Island

 South Carolina

  • Conagree National Park

 South Dakota

  • Badlands National Park
  • Wind Cave National Park


  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (UNESCO) (also in Tennessee)


  • Big Bend National Park
  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park
  • Visit the Missions of San Antonio, including the Alamo (UNESCO)


  • Arches National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Capitol Reef
  • Zion National Park



  • Shenandoah National Park
  • Monticello and the University of Virginia  (UNESCO)
  • Visit Williamsburg, Virginia


  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • North Cascades National Park
  • Olympic National Park (UNESCO)

 West Virginia



  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Yellowstone National Park (UNESCO)

US National Parks Not Located in the 50 United States:

  • American Samoa, Virgin Island, Reef, Islands, Congaree, Lake, Valley, Isle Royale, Tree, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Kings Canyon, Kobuk Valley, Lake Clark, National Park of American Samoa, North Cascades, Redwood, Rocky Mountain, Saguaro, and the Virgin Islands

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