Presidential Libraries Are Worth Visiting

I trace my fascination with presidents with a couple of childhood events. I was in first grade and home sick that November Friday when Walter Cronkite cut into As the World Turns with the tragic news that JFK had been assassinated.

The next year I was home for two weeks with the flu just after my mother bought a set of World Book encyclopedias. Bored, with no videos and only two channels on TV, I began memorizing the presidents in order and the state capitals as well.

Since it’s President’s Day, I’m remembering some of my visits to presidential libraries. My love for presidential history and my tendency to prefer museums showcasing narrow topics (rather than the massive Smithsonian) are reasons why I find presidential libraries so appealing.

I have been to four of them – Bush 41 & 43, Clinton & LBJ and came away with new appreciation for their service, even for the ones I didn’t care for politically. When visiting comprehensive museums such as the Smithsonian, I am overwhelmed, but I can manage presidential libraries since they focus on only four to eight years of history. There are only 13 official ones administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. Texas has three of them.

Here are my brief takeaways from the four that I have visited:

George W. Bush, Southern Methodist University, Dallas: I thought the 9/11 exhibit especially touching with details of the President’s, Vice President’s and first lady’s schedules during that time. The $16 admission is a bit pricey compared to the other libraries visited in the $7-$10 price range.

Since this was the museum we visited most recently, I remember more details about the whole trip. On the day we visited the museum. We opted not to eat at “43,” the museum’s restaurant and went to Rise!, a great soufflé place about three miles away. Rise! has presidential tie-ins as we were seated at the  “Bush” table,  the 43rd president’s regular table evidenced by family signatures on the underside. George W, then the former president, was eating a crab soufflé at this table when advisors called to say Osama bin laden had been killed. Another regular Rise patron is Chandler Roosevelt Lindsley, granddaughter of Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt, who lives in the Dallas area. You can purchase her cookie booklet there.

Bananas Foster Souffle at Rise!

Also, you can include a trip to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas to learn more about the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Daughter Mary Grace poses by the Presidential limousine at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library on the Texas A&M campus.

George H.W. Bush, Texas A&M University, library in College Station covers the Gulf war, but it was the Bushes public service and their time in China with the CIA that I found most fascinating. A good time to go is in May when the drive leading to the library is surrounded by Texas bluebonnets.

LBJ, University of Texas, library in Austin featured a life-sized mechanical LBJ wearing a cowboy hat sharing folksy stories when I visited 10 years ago. That exhibit has since been replaced by LBJ in a suit in the Oval Office. I haven’t seen it, but I think the former captures his persona better.

Bill Clinton, Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas: The middle of the first floor has an interesting timeline of important events during the time of the Clinton administration, 1993-2001, with the daily schedule of Clinton’s almost 3,000 days in office. Press the appropriate button, and you get “a day in the life.”  The museum gives great views of downtown Little Rock and the Arkansas River. Through April 2, there’s an exhibit on Beatlemania!

Downtown Little Rock view from Clinton library

Ulysses S. Grant Library at Mississippi State!

Presidential  libraries are 21st century creations, but some earlier presidents have foundations that administer birthplaces, libraries and museums. In an ironic move, Mississippi State University is now home to the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library. Yes, you read that right, a former Confederate state houses the library of the former general of the Union army. After a complicated and fascinating dispute that is still in litigation, a MSU history professor had the Grant papers and artifacts moved from Southern Illinois University to MSU in 2012. Read more here.

Harry S. Truman

A couple of years ago we were traveling and found our hotel in Independence, Mo, just outside Kansas City, and the home of Harry S. Truman.

Truman Walked the Streets
Truman Walked the Streets

There wasn’t enough time to visit the presidential library. However, I loved seeing the silhouette signs around town of Truman to depict how he walked everywhere. I’m also amazed at how just spending 30 minutes in a place where a president lived lived piqued my interest in the Truman administration – so much that I downloaded David McCullough’s wonderful biography of the 33rd president.

A Bit of Presidential Trivia

I’m still fascinated by this information I picked up on a trip to Washington, D.C. last May. Two grandsons of our 10th president, John Tyler, are still living! Read more here.

So on this President’s Day, I think I’ll forgo the furniture store sales and read up on one of the presidents. Can anyone suggest a book or a movie?

My Trip to Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile

All I wanted for Valentine’s Day was a trip to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to visit The Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile, a 107-year-old building that the Food Network star has handsomely restored into a restaurant, bakery, deli, retail shop and ranch office.

We made the six and a half hour trip from Shreveport last week. The drive’s not bad when places like Paris, Texas and Okmulgee, Oklahoma have Starbucks!

Hubby and his brother were good sports as my sister-in-law and I made our way around the store. We did come away with a few purchases, but my main goal was to look around, sample the food and hopefully run into Ree, aka Pioneer Woman, or one of the Drummond clan.

The shop was as beautiful as pictured on her the blog. There are some pricey items — a cast iron skillet in the shape of the United States for $125, metal butterflies sculpted into a horse for $250 but fun lower-end items such as $3 bacon lip balm, $6 finger puppets of historic and literary figures such as Benjamin Franklin and Sherlock Holmes. And lots of dinnerware in bright colors and florals.

Originally, I thought we’d eat a late breakfast/brunch there, shop, tour the town, drive out to the ranch and return for a late afternoon meal. But on further reflection, I felt one big PW meal was about all my diet could stand.

The menu isn’t extensive because I have a feeling Ree Drummond only wants to serve things that can scale perfectly to feed a large restaurant crowd.  I did a rough count one day and figured I have made more than 60 of her recipes so I wanted to order some things I hadn’t tried.

Hubby got the Marlboro Man sandwich, strips of tenderized ribeye sauteed with onions and served on a soft hoagie bun with homemade potato chips. He shared some with me, so I got the  salad with steak added. For an appetizer,  we had creamy olive cheese bread. They were all what you would expect from Pioneer Woman–delicious!

I wanted to get prune cake just to see if it lived up to its menu billing– “Don’t get hung up on the name. This just might be the best thing you have ever eaten.”  But I didn’t have room and will have to save it for another visit or make it myself. Did I mention we split a pecan sticky bun before lunch?

I didn’t see any calorie counts or “on the lighter side” on the menu. Only those marked “bring a hearty appetite.”

We had to wait about 40 minutes for a lunch table — it will be longer on weekends and during holidays, shorter during breakfast. Todd, the youngest Drummond child, was bussing our table. Sister Paige, 17, was on duty as barista, and Ladd, Marlboro Man himself, was working the crowd.

Ladd Drummond “Marlboro Man” graciously poses for a picture with me
Todd Drummond
Todd and Paige at the coffee bar

I guess Ree was home blogging, making lasagna or gathering cattle.

We ended our time in Pawhuska by driving eight miles out on U.S. Highway 60 to the Drummond Ranch entrance sign and continuing on County Road 4461, a gravel road, until we could see her house in the distance. We wanted to see if she really does live “on a ranch in the middle of nowhere”

She does.

And the wind was sweeping down the plain that day.

A trip to Pawhuska would be a terrific paired with a trip to Tulsa (an hour away with beautiful Art Deco architecture) or Oklahoma City (two hours away with National Memorial commemorating 1995 bombing and National Cowboy Museum). 

Pioneer Woman Mercantile

The Joy of Going to the Grocery Store

 

With rare exceptions, I love going to the grocery store. Others may think it mundane, even a chore. But it’s this weekly ritual that makes me feel alive, sustains me, feeds me.

I’ve been going through Shauna Niequist’s Savor devotional book for the past few months, and anyone familiar with her writing knows she values food and the dinner table. She writes that everyday life, is an exquisite gift, and I would include going to the grocery store as part of that.

In my Shreveport neighborhood, both a new Whole Foods and Kroger Marketplace opened during the past two months.  (Read my blog post Are You Whole Foods or Piggly Wiggly?) I only occasionally visit Whole Foods, but Kroger, in some form or another, has been a part of my life since growing up  in small town Mississippi. Although the Kroger of my childhood bears no resemblance to the expansive Marketplace, where you also buy clothes, cookware and coffee tables.

There is satisfaction into checking the pantry, planning menus, making a list, perusing the sale paper, and, now, downloading coupons on the store’s app.

One of my favorite sounds of childhood was when my mother returned from the grocery store. I’d hear the carport screen door open, the brown bag rustling and the clanking of Coke bottles in their carton as she sat them on the counter.

I even like making a grocery budget, saving the receipts and monitoring spending monthly.  There’s a lot of fat in the food budget!

Problem is at our house my husband loves to go to the grocery store too. That is a blessing (he cooks a lot and buys things like yogurt covered almonds that I love but am too cheap to buy) and a curse (he doesn’t look at prices).

We’re mainly Kroger shoppers but end up frequenting just about every grocery store–Brookshire’s for Conecuh sausage and Julio’s salsa, Target for their store brand blue corn tortilla chips with flaxseed, Wal-Mart for Caribou Obsidian coffee pods, Whole Foods because it’s the new place in town, and Albertson’s when we just don’t want to get out on Shreveport’s busy Youree Drive.

Looking at the sale papers. Making a list. Going to the grocery store. Running into a friend, someone from church, one of your children’s former teachers. And then returning for something we forgot. The joy of everyday life.

As Shauna writes in one of Savor‘s January devotionals:

“This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by … This pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience. ”

 

 

 

Are You Arugula or Collards?

I’m not normally a cold weather gardener, but a couple of years ago I planted some butter crunch lettuce and it did well. Last year, I tried arugula. It did well too so I planted it again this year.

I like the peppery bite of arugula–added to other salad greens or eaten on its own with a simple mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and a little parmesan cheese.

My husband and I have different tastes in greens. He loves collards. and planted a beautiful winter crop s a couple of years ago. I don’t like them and wouldn’t eat them. (He ended up eating very little as his low-carb diet didn’t allow for the cornbread to accompany them).

At least we had a pretty view out the back window on dreary winter days.

I don’t like like  mustard greens or turnip greens either. Hubby accuses me of being snooty with my greens because I do eat spinach and arugula.

But I counter by reminding him that I do not eat kale, despite its trendiness.

I’ve liked arugula ever since it started appearing in restaurants everywhere and was glad to discover how easy it is to grow. I  just planted a packet of seeds in the garden in late September, thinned the plants after a few weeks and started harvesting in early December.

I wish I had covered them during recent cold snap with temperatures dipping to 19 in our area.  I lost a few plants. I may try to get another crop in for spring before it gets too warm. Arugula does best in cool weather.

Here’s a guide to growing arugula from Bonnie Plants.

Hubby doesn’t eat arugula–not even in salads. And he certainly doesn’t think it’s a suitable pizza topping as it has become at those upscale pizzerias

So I eat my arugula alone. My favorite  way is the method pictured in the header photo for this blog: top naan bread with fresh mozzarella and red grapes and bake until the mozzarella browns. Remove, add arugula and freshly cracked black pepper.

Another is  this simple salad that I found at Gimme Some Oven blog.

The picture below is an arugula topped omelet at Brennan’s in New Orleans.

How do you like your arugula?

2016: Blog Year in Review

I know this year-end recap should have been written last week, but I was too busy putting away the Christmas decor. OK, truth be told. The only thing I have been putting away was the rest of the Christmas pound cake, sausage balls and peanut brittle.

But I did start blogging in 2016. In fact, this is my 99th post! Although the writing pace has slowed. (I have my daughter’s wedding to plan), I wanted to look back and revisit some of my favorite posts and thank the dozen (I am over estimating) or so faithful readers.

I hope your 2017 is fabulous!

Bicycling and Eating Caramel Cake in North Mississippi

My husband and i usually take a weekend bicycle trip for my birthday. This year we explored the Tanglefoot Trail (and a few eateries) in New Albany, Mississippi. Wonder what bicycle trip I will do for my 60th birthday in April 2017?

Coushatta Road Trip for Tomatoes, Peaches & Such

When I made my blog public, I wanted to photograph my bicycle at an iconic farm stand. What better one to use than Ed Lester Farms in Coushatta. We spent a fun day exploring the area.

Bicycle at Ed Lester Produce

A Father Who Brings Home the Bacon

Since I published this one on Father’s Day, few people saw it since no one reads blogs on weekends. I enjoyed writing this tribute to my husband.

Father's Day bacon

Cheese Straw Tomato Tartlets From Southern Living

I started blogging with 30 Days of Tomatoes with recipes using some of the tomatoes from my garden. This is a favorite appetizer.

Cheese Straw Tomato Tartlets

My Fourth Trip to Vicksburg’s The Tomato Place

I can’t get enough of this quirky roadside stand in Vicksburg.

Small Town Bicycling: Jefferson, Texas

I love bicycling in small towns, and historic Jefferson, Texas is a great place to explore on two wheels.

Road Trip: A Mississippi General Store Tied to Manning Quarterbacks

Peyton retired in 2016, and I made my first trip to the family general store near Philadelphia, Mississippi

Mule collars, NFL jerseys and country hams

 

Pickles, Jams, Relishes and Stuff: Last Days at the Farmers Market

The Shreveport Farmers Market is a local jewel, and the experience is enhanced by getting to know the local vendors like the Pratts from Natchitoches.

Sugarmakers jams, jellies, pickles and relishes

10 Reasons to Cycle on Harts Island Road This Fall

Fall may be the best time, but it’s still fun bicycling Harts Island Road any season of the year, including winter.

Bicyclists on Harts Island Road

Are You Whole Foods or Piggly Wiggly?

I’m somewhere in between. I’ve been to the new Whole Foods four times since it opened in Shreveport in November. Now, it’s the La Madeleine bakery & cafe that I’m really looking forward to in 2017.

Kickstands and Nightstands-What I’m Reading

The basket of books near my nightstand contains a mix of inspirational titles and books by Southern authors. Well, mostly Mississippi writers. John Grisham mysteries and Willie Morris memoirs. The marvelous stories of Eudora Welty. The more recent fiction of Mark Childress and Kathryn Stockett.

My husband, who reads more than anyone I know, once suggested that I broaden my literary horizons.

I did.

I tried an author from Alabama.

I picked up Rick Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin’. Beautifully written, it is a story of his relationship with his mother — from her taking in ironing to feed the family to her trip with Bragg to New York City to accept the Pulitzer Prize. it became one of my all-time favorite books. I’ve read his other family stories — Ava’s Man and The Prince of Frogtown. When my Southern Living comes every month, I flip to the last page and read his essay first before perusing the rest of the magazine.

Speaking of Southern Living, the December 2016 issue has some good reading material–not the home decor and food articles but Christmas memoirs from the likes of Fannie Flagg, another great Alabama author.

It is what it is. I live in the South and like to read about the South.

I do enjoy books about journeys – real or imaginary. I like books by Bill Bryson. Born in Iowa, he writes about adapting to life spent in England and Australia and then adjusting upon his return to the States. My favorite: The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America.

I’ve always been fascinated by people bicycling across the United States  and like to read their stories.Two recent ones I’ve read: Two are Better, the story of a couple, who married for the first time in their early 50s and honeymooned on a coast-to-coast trip; and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, how author Donald Miller edited his life by pushing himself out of a post-book (Blue Like Jazz) writing funk and into challenging, life-transforming events including a bicycle trip across America.

Lately, I’ve mostly been listening to audiobooks, not just when I’m riding in the car but also before I go to bed. This fall I finished two that I highly recommend: Hillbilly Ellegy, a memoir written by a Yale grad who analyzes the decline of the white working class culture he grew up in,  and The Nightingale, historical fiction exploring the different paths taken by  sisters resisting the Nazis in France during World War II.  I will say The Nightingale was the best book that I read in 2016.

Audiobooks are great for traveling, and I associate certain books with where I’ve been. (It was the subject of writer friend Judy Christie’s book column in the Shreveport Times a while back.) I also like to read books set in a place I recently visited.  After my first ever trip to the Pacific Northwest this fall, I started reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette,  set in Seattle and full of Pacific Northwest references. It’s not my favorite. While my daughter and I were touring around the Olympic Peninsula in the rental car, we listened to Twilight set in Forks the peninsula.

Early morning is reserved for Bible reading usually followed by a devotional. It really helps me start the day focused and with purpose.  My current devotional book is  Shauna Niequist’s Savor.  Shauna’s  a very powerful writer and speaker especially on the topic of ministry and fellowship around the dinner table.

I have never read the Bible entirely through and am currently doing so  with Psalms and Ezekiel to go. I can’t keep up with the pace suggested in most “read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year” plans, so I do a chapter or two a day followed by a devotional book.

I’m nearly 60, and the clock is ticking. I wouldn’t want to stand before God, with all the blessings He has given me and try to explain why I had not taken the time to read his Word.

Do you have any book recommendations to put on my reading list for 2017?

Kickstands and Bundt Pans-Pound Cakes for Christmas

I used to think pound cakes were for old people, in the category with congealed salads. Or in another of my labeling systems, a  layer cake with icing was like watermelon. A pound cake was like cantaloupe.

You had to be about 50 to prefer them. I figured now that I am pushing 60, it’s time to get out the Bundt pan.

Growing up, pound cake was something I ate when the other Christmas goodies were gone. (Well, before the fruit cake.) It was great for Christmas breakfast.

However, since my mother died in 2011, pound cakes are among what I miss at Christmas.  They were always moist and sometimes indulgent, even though I don’t remember her putting a glaze on one. Coconut pound cake. German chocolate pound cake. Sour cream pound cake. Those would always be on the holiday rotation.

My mother wasn’t a big Christmas person and often complained when she thought people were overdecorating for the holidays,  but she enjoyed baking. Not only would she make pound cakes and banana nut bread, chess squares and magic cookie bars–and all types of balls–bourbon balls, sausage balls, orange coconut balls.

But today I’m remembering pound cakes, which are making a comeback. A good part of it is the growth of Nothing Bundt Cakes, which has 175 locations in the United States and Canada. Nothing Bundt Cakes has elevated the pound cake with generous frosting, a variety of sizes and flavors such as “pecan praline” and “white white chocolate.”

And since I’m mixing food with business stories, let’s explore the Bundt pan. The pan was developed by Minnesota-based Nordic Ware during the 1950s. It really didn’t sell well and Nordic Ware considered discontinuing it. Then, in 1966, a woman used the pan to make the Tunnel of Fudge cake, which won second (not first) place in the Pillsbury Cook-Off.

Sales exploded. Nordic Ware trademarked the Bundt pan. Now there are castle and vaulted cathedral Bundt pans and dozens of variations on the classic fluted shape with the hole in the center.

I don’t remember my mother ever making a “Tunnel of Fudge” cake as she was a scratch cook and didn’t use cake mixes. But she did use her Bundt pan,

Some large pound cakes call for a tube pan (straight edges rather than fluted but still with the hole in the center). If you want some tips on whether or not to use a Bundt or a tube pan, check this website.

Call it growing older or refusing the extravagance of those  over-the-top multi-layer cakes gracing these covers of December food magazines, I’m craving the simple goodness of a moist slice of pound cake this Christmas.

Here’s a link to a recipe my mother used for German chocolate pound cake. I believe it originally was on the package of Baker’s chocolate. I particularly like it because it calls for three items I don’t typically stock in my pantry–shortening, baking chocolate and Swan’s Down cake flour (recipe doesn’t specify the latter, but I always use on the rare occasions that I bake cakes).

ingredients-1266-x-804

Going to the store to get them  brings back warm memories of my mother’s baking.

Here’s the sour cream pound cake my mother also liked to make.

 

A Gratitude Lesson From a Rainy Vacation Day

A recent vacation taught me an unexpected lesson on gratitude.

The  vacation itinerary that I drew up for a recent trip that I took with my daughter included a morning drive along the Hood River County Fruit Loop, a 35-mile route dotted with 30 farm stands in Oregon between the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood.

It was prime  harvesting season when I was there in October so I envisioned lots of apple picking on a crisp, sun-splashed fall day. Then we’d have lunch at a local winery and enjoy an afternoon of bicycling  on America’s original scenic byway. Perhaps we would hike a little of the Pacific Crest Trail.

The only question was how could we choose among those 30 points of interest–fruit stands and berry farms, wineries and cider houses, u-pick apple and pear orchards, lavender farms, an alpaca farm and even a chestnut  farm.

The Fruit Loop brochure had me excited as I looked at the farms pictured with blue skies, dahlias in the foreground and snow-capped Mt. Hood in the background. Likewise, the historic Columbia Gorge Highway site had postcard-worthy photos of bicycle trails.  I packed a few of the new almond butter-filled Clif bars just to create a photo similar to the one of a cyclist on the package.

clif-bar

But it was not to be. It rained miserably all day. So we didn’t get to bicycle or hike at all. We didn’t ride the Fruit Loop with our windows down and sun roof open as we had hoped. We should have peeked through the sun roof with our umbrella for a amusing photo op, but frankly I was too bummed out.

We did drive along Highway 35 and the side roads that make up the Fruit Loop. We stopped at a  few farm stands — Packer Orchards, Apple Valley Country Store & Bakery and Draper Girls Country Farm. We found the best variety at Draper Girls — Pacific Rose, Spice and Pink Pearl to name a few. The latter had a bit of pink in the flesh.

pink-pearl-pink-inside

Our adventure for the day: Returning to the Airbnb to watch Reese Witherspoon in “Wild.” And eating some of those apples.

So what was the gratitude lesson?

It took me a while upon returning home, but I reflected on past vacations. On one trip to the beach, rain was forecast every day of the week–we almost cancelled our condo. But as it turned out, it rained none of the days we were there.

We did experience a downpour three years ago during one of the vacation days in New York City, but that was one day of rain, four days of sunshine. (And can you really whine on a rainy day in New York when that means spending it in the Metropolitan Museum of Art?)

On my rough scorecard of vacations past, I’m averaging about  9 out of 10 sunny days. Was I as grateful for those as I was complaining about my rainy October trip to Washington and Oregon?

From now on, I’m going to start vacations with less of an entitlement mindset about the weather. Then, when a vacation day is wrapped in sunshine, maybe I’ll treat it like a gift.

And be more thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kickstands and Wedding Plans-Bridal Gown Shopping

Saying yes to THE dress means having to say no to some wonderful dresses and a wonderful bridal boutique.

In planning a wedding, there are a lot of side stories that don’t get shared in the Sunday newspaper write-up or even in the reception toasts.

My older daughter, Claire, is getting married in April, and we spent last weekend bridal gown shopping.  I’ve got to say we have more pictures of that experience than we have from my entire wedding and honeymoon .

In fact, we have more photos from the places where we did not buy than from my wedding. On that note, I want to give a shoutout to Bridal Boutique in Lewisville, Texas for their customer service.

The bride ended up buying a gown elsewhere and is thrilled with her choice. But she was momentarily sad that Bridal Boutique didn’t get the sale and Carol, our consultant, didn’t get the commission.

I’m enjoying learning about the bridal industry, and Bridal Boutique is the poster child for customer service. For starters, you walk in and a chalkboard lettering welcomes the brides with appointments –25 on the Saturday we were there — by name and wedding date.

Soon after check-in, your party is offered champagne. The consultant brings in the gowns that match your style and Pinterest postings. The consultant seems genuinely interested in the bride, the engagement ring, how she met the groom, how the proposal went and how the lighting in the wedding and reception venue will be. The store manager swings by a couple of times with more words of welcome and more champagne.

Behind the scenes, Bridal Boutique has adapted well to technology and warranted this article in Entrepreneur magazine. Apparently, they are doing a lot of things right. Bridal Boutique opened in 1990 in Lewisville, 25 miles north of Dallas. It has expanded several times, taking in what was once a bank and a Masonic Hall downtown. In fact the entire town of Lewisville has embraced the wedding industry–there’s a bakery, wedding rental business, alterations, separate shop for bridesmaids and mother of the brides, even a wedding chapel in its historic old Main Street.

As I am learning there is money to be made in this industry, I am particularly interested in small town bridal gown destinations. Although Lewisville is a fast-growing Dallas suburb, it’s old downtown has small-town charm. We didn’t make it to Brinkley, a town of little more than 3,000 in Arkansas, but many friends have and walked away with a gown from Low’s there. Low’s opened in 1977 when a pharmacist’s wife began selling a few gowns upstairs above the drug store. It’s now housed in  a restored railroad hotel and sells more than 5,000 gowns a year (The Lewisville store,  no small volume store, sells 1,500 a year)

Claire ended up finding the perfect dress in a nice boutique but the  the decor looked more like the waiting room at H&R Block than the fairy-tale like baroque furnishings of the Lewisville store. And the customer service was lacking.

Out of respect for the bride, I’ll save pictures of the dress until the wedding day. Suffice it to say she looks stunning. It was the  right choice, but we’ll always remember the place in Lewisville, Texas where she didn’t say “yes.”

 

 

An Apple a Day on My Recent Vacay

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from blog writing recently. My older daughter Claire got engaged in October. It will be #kickstandsandweddingplans around our house during the next few months. Meantime, I’ll share a little bit about a recent trip to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest with my younger daughter Mary Grace.

During my first visit to Seattle’s Pike Place Market a few weeks ago, I spent most of my time checking out the produce vendors, especially looking for different varieties of Washington apples. Did you know that six out of every 10 apples consumed in the United States are grown in the state of Washington? I didn’t know it was that high, but check out this informative site.

So I packed my apple corer for the trip and picked up a few at the market. Can’t say they were much better than the Honeycrisps I’ve been getting at my local Kroger. They have been exceptionally good this fall, and they are grown in Washington. I can’t wait to try this salted caramel apple wheel recipe from Chelan Fresh.

I did make it to the famous Pike Place fishmonger booths and learned you could pack just about any seafood in a TSA-approved box, but I didn’t buy any.

I enjoyed all of the colors and sampling a few different fruit and vegetable varieties at Pike Place. Here are a few photos.