The Shin Bone’s Connected To The . . .

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Ft. Worth is without a doubt my favorite Texas city. My mom started taking me to the Kimbell when I was about ten and I fell in love.  For me, the city is a smorgasbord of beloved favorites and new discoveries just waiting to happen.

So, when our friends Liz and Carl suggested we all meet up for BBQ last weekend, Coco and I immediately said YES!  Then, when Carl informed us that we would be going to the Woodshed Smokehouse of chef Tim Love renown, we said, “ummm, we’d rather NOT.”


No sarcasm intended; that’s actually what we said.  We checked out the Woodshed last July at the recommendation of some friends and, let’s just say, it didn’t go well.  We got there around 6:30 on a Saturday (along with everyone else in the Ft. Worth area) and the high was about 98 degrees (a cool day in Texas for July, btw).  The restaurant consists of outdoor seating located on the banks of the Trinity, which makes for great ambiance . . . unless you’re being slowly broiled at a picnic table set directly under that cruel Texas summer sun.  Our server recommended getting the ribs.  They were dry and not very well seasoned in our opinion.  We left vowing never to return.

Which should speak to the force of Carl’s personality that he was able to convince us to go back for round two.  Coco and I rationalized that we would try to be good friends and just deal.  We got there a little before 5:00 (old people dinner time, I know, but much less crowded) and got a table under the veranda.  Then Carl ordered the Beef Shin Dinner.

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A whole platter of sumptuous amazingness that just couldn’t be replicated anywhere else.  Accompanied by a light and zingy kale salad, beans, creamy ricotta, corn tortillas, and a tangy (seemed fruit based) barbeque sauce, we were in foodie HEAVEN!

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I want everyone to note how smug Carl looks presiding over those demolished dinner remains of pure Texan BBQ ecstasy.  So, Coco and I have most definitely changed our tune about the Woodshed.  Just maybe don’t go for the ribs . . .

Coco had the very excellent notion of snagging a hotel room for the evening so he and I could prolong our Ft. Worth festivities. I decided to let Coco be the tour guide the next day and was introduced to a whole new set of favorite Ft. Worth experiences!

We began our day well.  At the Ol’ South Pancake House.

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Since it’s a pancake house, one of us HAD to get pancakes.  Coco manned up and took the hit.

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As I was looking over the menu, my eye landed on the words “lemon” and “powdered sugar,” so I immediately went for the dutch babies!  A German style pancake rolled around a lemon juice and powdered sugar filling, assembled right at your table!

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Thus fortified and craving more adventure, we headed to the Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History.  Two words:  DINOSAURS and PLANETARIUM!!!

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They even have a “dig site.” You know Coco and I most definitely played in the sand on our quest for fossilized remains!

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Now, I don’t like to pick favorites when it come to things I geek out over, but  . . . theplanetariumwasABSOLUTELYfavorite!!!  Coco and I both realized that we had probably not been to a planetarium since around age 12 and we were loooong overdue.

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FYI – if you want to see me geek out like Sheldon Cooper with a Leonard Nimoy napkin, hand a me a meteorite.  I may or may not have gone speechless.

In other news, we found the cow of the future!  And Coco photobombed it.

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To cap off the fun, Coco treated me to lunch at one of my favorite Ft. Worth restaurants:  Terra Mediterranean.  Terra may be super crowded at lunch, but the lunch buffet of Mediterranean heaven makes it completely worth the wait! Do yourself a favor if you go and GET the saffron chicken!

We did a little window shopping after lunch to postpone the impending digestive coma.  One of my favorite shops in the West 7th area is a home-goods boutique call Wrare.  We find something unique every time we visit.

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YES, those ARE Mouse and the Motorcycle bookends.  If you don’t get why that’s exciting, then I’m sorry you had a joyless childhood.

And finally, any trip to Ft. Worth, MUST include a trip to the best gelato shop this side of Italy:  Paciugo.

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My favorite is the violet flavored gelato combined with the dark chocolate fondant.  Since they were out of violet, I branched out and went with rose flavored and lemon custard.  Delish!  . . . And I may have also taken a few swipes of Coco’s pistachio praline . . . Marriage IS about sharing, right?

Our Backyard is a Wonderland

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Okay.  Fully aware of how cliche it is to go backyard adventuring.  That said, over the past month we’ve had more going on in our backyard than I’ve ever seen in the three and half years that I’ve lived in this house.  I used to get super excited (and I’m talking seven-year-old girl at Disney World meeting a princess for the first time kind of excited) if I saw upwards of TWO fireflies in the evening.

This summer has been CRAZY because apparently Texas is having an El Nino year.  It rained pretty much the whole month of May and June has been wetter and cooler (HALLELUJAH!!!) than normal.  Coco and I started getting ridiculously excited when we were seeing upwards of TWENTY fireflies each night.  That’s become our cheap date night, by the way:  make a cocktail, sit on the deck, and just watch all the fireflies.  There were several times sitting out on the deck that I saw a dark, winged shape that I could have sworn was an owl.  Coco didn’t believe me.

Then we got a massive-huge thunderstorm.  Coco walked outside the next morning to let the dogs out and saw this little guy just chillin behind the shrubs.

11201919_1104286326251982_9119274465892362309_nSuddenly, we had a neighborhood owl!!! Excitement that can hardly be contained!!!

THEN, things took a crazy turn.  We were out on the deck with friends and family one evening when we saw what we thought was our friendly neighborhood owl swoop into some vines for a lizard.  When we looked into the trees to try and spot him, we realized that “he” was a “she” and “she” had a whole little parliament of fledgling baby owls!!!  We had an OWL FAMILY!!! We may or may not have started referring to them as Owl City.

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We counted about six at one time and, I’m not gonna lie, Coco and I were absolute nerds about going out every day to see how many we could spot.  True confession, I took waaaay too many pictures.

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Let’s play find the owls!


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After about a week, the fledgelings were big enough to start flying and hunting for themselves.  They left, and I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit devastated about the kids growing up and leaving home.   But, every so often, while we’re enjoying a quiet evening out on the deck, a shadowed shape flits through the trees on a nighttime hunt and we hope that just maybe it’s a member of our “Owl City.”

Coco and I spent a few days sad and owl-less, but then, in a fantastical twist, we discovered that we had a family of birds living in our birdhouse right outside the kitchen door!  We saw mama bird flying back and forth quite a bit bringing dinner to the babies and we think that they might be thrushes.

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So, we got to enjoy about another week of wildlife living right outside our door!

To top everything off, our “garden” is finally in full bloom!  Being a Texas native, I never really considered that it might be a bad thing for plants to get TOO much water.  As a result of the almost biblical levels of rain in May, all of our plants were water-logged and overgrown with yellowing leaves.  Now that everybody’s getting a bit of sunshine, things have really started to take off!

My Mrs. Dudley Cross is doing beautifully!

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As are my peach drifts.


I swear, dianthus will survive just about anything and keep on growing like a weed!

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My dianthus is the one plant I’ve had since I moved into the house that I haven’t managed to kill with my largely imaginary “green thumb” skills.

Coco is super proud of his jalapeno plants!  And hopefully the sunshine will give those babies a little more heat.


I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been one for succulents, I’ve always preferred roses and plants reminiscent of an English garden. Three lavender plants and several failed snapdragons in, I’m gradually learning that you just can’t have those kinds of expectations in Texas.  So I’ve gone over to the zero-scaping side . . . just a little.  And I have to admit, I do really enjoy my little decorative group of succulent plants.

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There was one tall succulent in the middle of the arrangement that I have personally never seen before, but it almost had the look of a fern fiddle head.  A couple of weeks ago, I walked out to give everybody a drink and found this lovely surprise!


One of the many reasons I love having a garden.  I may not always have that many plants that actually manage to survive my TLC, but gosh darn it, it’s so fantastic to watch new growth unfold right in front of you!

So, yeah, they may not be earth shattering adventures, and I know it’s nothing outside of my comfort zone.  But c’mon!  We seriously have the coolest backyard EVER this summer!  And my one big hope is that maybe El Nino will keep the thermometer on the cool side too.

Ready. Set. Go.

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I’ve realized I use that phrase a lot.  Way more than I should.  It’s great for the beginning of road trips or getting my students to do their own thing in class, but I mostly use it as a conversation segue because I’m just way too lazy.  Still, “ready, set, go” is what you normally say at the beginning of an adventure.  Which is what makes my overuse of it so completely inappropriate.

I am NOT adventurous.  I am the most boring homebody you will EVER meet.  I have probably taken about a bazillion online personality tests (yeah, I might be that narcissistic) and they all come out saying the same thing:  my levels of adventurousness are completely nonexistent.  I’m about as cautious as a cow on a flat rock.

Side note:  I don’t know why a flat rock makes a cow cautions.  I’m going to attribute that little colloquial gem to my incredibly rural East Texas upbringing.

So, I’m kinda boring.  In fact, one of my best friends in college once told me that, if I was a dessert, I’d be vanilla ice cream.  That’s right:  plain, old nilla.  Gee. Thanks.  Here’s the thing about vanilla ice cream, though:  it’s pretty basic on its own, but it’s FREAKING AMAZING when you pair it with other desserts.

Enter Coco, my hunka-hunka burnin’ love husband.  If Coco were a dessert, I like to think that he would be that perfect slice of chocolate layer cake.  Smooth and rich, seductively decadent, and everybody’s favorite.  (Just go with the hyperbole.  We are, after all, newlyweds.) And let’s face it, chocolate cake a la mode – that’s a combination for the ages.

Now, don’t get the idea that I married some kid of adrenaline junky, I just got lucky enough to marry a guy who isn’t really into the routine. I’ve realized that he has probably done more than anyone else in my life to pull me out of my shell.  In the almost three years that we have been together I have made more new friends, traveled so much more, and tried more new things than I ever did during those mostly single post-grad school years.

So, I’ve decided to embrace the adventure.  Even though when he wakes me up this Saturday to go to the Farmer’s Market, all I’ll really want to embrace is my pillow.

When you think about it though, that’s what adventures are really:  trying something new despite being outside your comfort zone, maybe being a little disoriented, with no clue about what’s really going on.  And after all, isn’t that life?  The grandest, most inspiring adventure of them all?

(What, too on the nose?  Just deal, haters.)