W and X

We are in W month but decided to add X as well. It’s hard to do a lot of X activities without cheating by adding an “e” to X and making it an Extra special combination. So we thought we’d combine our W and X into the same month. After all, why should X be lonely?

XO COFFEE COMPANY & BISTRO

It’s very hard to find an X item so we were very lucky to find this cute little coffee house right in our backyard of downtown Plano. We thought it would just be coffee and maybe some little treats, but the real treat was that they had an Xtremely appetizing menu of breakfast and lunch items. Laura had their cappuccino, which she thought was one of the best ever, and Barbara tried the cauliflower bisque since it was a bone chilling day. Although the bisque was an acquired taste, Barbara wound up really enjoying it. The wait staff was very friendly, which added to the experience, so we will be back.

 

 

RESEARCH CENTER -XOX 

In keeping with the XO theme, have you ever thought about the reason people use XOXOX to indicate hugs and kisses at the end of a letter or email? Well, if you’re Barbara you have. X has been used since 1763 to indicate a kiss due to the medieval use of X by illiterates to indicate a signature. X was the symbol of the cross, so signing with an X was indicating “in Christ’s name it is true.” The cross was then kissed to indicate sincerity. The origin of the O is less agreed upon. One theory is that illiterate non-Christians used it instead of an X so as not to be representing Christianity. The O made the jump to being a hug because it was in the shape of two people hugging.

What have YOU been wondering about this month?

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WAXAHACHIE WALKABOUT

What a great discovery! Waxahachie, the Gingerbread City – named for its nearly 200 Victorian and Gingerbread architectural homes. Downtown Waxahachie was a wonderful and charming destination, with great shops, friendly people and a beautiful courthouse.  

First stop was the Ellis Country Museum. There was a large amount of items displayed from WWII but the one we found the most interesting was the contraption used at hair There was a large amount of items displayed from WWII but the one we found the most interesting was the contraption used at hair salons to give perms. 

Can you imagine sitting in that contraption with the smell of chemicals and burning hair?

Then it was off to dine at the Dove’s Nest Restaurant, where the food was amazing. Our Dove’s Nest Club Panini was one of the best sandwiches we’ve ever had (was it their famous almond bacon cheddar spread?). The blackberry bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream was a perfect end to the meal. Plus, they had a fun gift shop, where Laura just had to buy a rabbit plate, thus launching her new animal plate collection.

Next up was The High Cotton Exchange where a great little pitcher and a beautiful serving bowl called Barbara’s name. For years, Barbara has wanted to collect different china sets for holidays and although that urge has been pared down to single serving bowls, Barbara’s long overdue wish to start her collection has now been fulfilled.  We can see a lot of antique shops in our future.

We capped off our excursion with a walk past the Courthouse (one of the prettiest we’ve seen), a visit to the Folk Art Gallery, and a short ride past some of those Victorian homes.  If not for the ABC Life we may never have discovered this charming town!

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OUR VERY LAST V

The thing we really like about the ABC Life is that it gets us out of our routine. If it weren’t for the fact that it was the last day of V month (January), we probably would have shined on our last activity – going to Lewisville on 1/31 to eat at Prohibition Chicken and the Volstead Room

The National Prohibition Act, also called the Volstead Act, was enacted to carry out the intent of the 18th Amendment, which established prohibition in the United States. The bill was named for Andrew Volstead, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who managed the legislation. Respectable citizens were lured by the romance of illegal speakeasies, so called because of the practice of speaking quietly about such a place in public, or when inside it, so as not to alert the police or neighbors.

When you enter Prohibition Chicken it looks like any other family-style chicken restaurant. But if you know about the Volstead Room, you get the code from the hostess (we had read it was a secret password but she just said to dial zero; maybe she was new), walk through the telephone booth in the back, pick up the old fashioned phone and dial.  Once you tell the person answering how many in your party (and supposedly give him the password of the day), he buzzes you into the back room “speakeasy.”

Our bartender/waiter, Luke, was wonderful. Extremely friendly, treated us like family and suggested the drink that fit our “flavor profile.” He was dead on. He made something called Pretty in Pink with vodka and raspberries.

Then on to dinner, which was great – from the homemade biscuits to the tri tip to the fried chicken, green beans and slaw. Definitely worth a return trip!

 

 

 

MORE AND LESS – “V” ZONE

 

Barbara – More VOLUNTEERING. Having recently retired I am still making the adjustment to going from being a vital contributing member of society to someone who is doing whatever she wants. I know that after 25 years of being a workaholic I am entitled to some more “me time” but we’ve come to associate some of our value with our job. So I’m determined to start exploring volunteer opportunities. They don’t make it easy though. I thought as soon as I said I wanted to volunteer somewhere it would be an immediate thing but I’ve found that a lot of places I was interested in had waiting lists of volunteers. I did find two that would give me the most sense of helping but the application is long and I need a background check. Now I sound like a complainer so I’ll just put my big girl pants on and tackle those…tomorrow.

Less VIAGRA and Cialis commercials. When did we go to 75% commercials for pharmaceuticals? The ones that bug me the most, though, are the various commercials for the drug Viagra and Cialis. I watch very little TV but when I do these are the ads that pop up (no pun intended). I don’t doubt the worth of it for those who are in need but really…how many of us have two matching antique tubs outside? And does every man with E.D. have a gorgeous woman in tow? I’m guessing that the ad makers thought if it showed a good looking man with a plain looking woman the people watching would blame the woman. It’s really a comment on our society.

Laura – More VICHYSSOISE and VITTLES. I have always loved the sound of certain words. They can make me smile, laugh and/or ponder (another word I like the sound of). For V, these two shine and they have the added benefit of being appreciated for what they are as well.  Vichyssoise can be heated but, like revenge, it is a dish best served cold. Vittles, on the other hand, came about because back in the 14th century, most people kept mispronouncing “victuals” as vittles. They both mean the same thing but the latter is easier and nicer sounding.

Less VERIZON commercials. This must be the month that TV commercials are truly getting on both Barbara’s and my nerves. In addition to the annoying commercials Verizon is running lately and their frequency (enough!), my main beef is with the use of Thomas Middleditch (Richard from the series Silicon Valley). Now I don’t mean any ill will toward the actor or his right to earn a living in whatever way he chooses, but having a well recognized actor in those commercials completely takes away from any believability about the premise of the ads. Are we really being asked to believe that a successful actor just believes in Verizon so much that he would use his “free” time to pester people at coffee shops and remote rural areas to sing the virtues of the company?  It just makes me think how phony the whole ad campaign is. Well enough complaining….time for some vittles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More VARIATIONS of V

A VISIT to a VIETNAMESE  Restaurant

In anticipation of our trip to Vietnam later this year, we thought our V month was the perfect time to sample some Vietnamese cuisine. We chose The Pho Crimson Restaurant in Dallas and ordered – you guessed it – pho. Both the chicken and shrimp pho were delicious. Pho is its own “thing” and even has its own rules:

  1. Slurping is expected and encouraged.
  2. Best way to experience pho is with chopsticks in one hand and a spoon in the other. Slurp a bit of broth from your spoon and follow with the rice noodles in your chopsticks. Consume the protein and vegetables in any fashion and in any order.
  3. The soul of pho is the broth, so enjoy the aroma as well as the taste.

VISIONS OF VAMPING

Looking for something new? We were so we thought we’d try Drag Queen Bingo and do a bit of VAMPING! Throw in the masquerade party theme and we had Visions of an afternoon of laughs, entertainment and, of course, bingo. Well, not exactly. No laughs. Weak entertainment. But yes, a bit of bingo. There were six of us and we had enthusiastically dressed Vamp-like and sported masks and Barbara actually won a game, but her prize was rather pathetic.

The event was very poorly organized – it ran close to three hours behind schedule, so we weren’t in the best of moods. Needless to say it wasn’t a fun day and we left at intermission. All in all, a VERY VEXING experience!

VIVA la VIETNAM

Again, with an eye to our upcoming trip, we chose a movie set in VIETNAM. The movie Indochine takes place in French Indochina and is a story of a plantation owner (Catherine Deneuve) who adopts a young royal daughter of her deceased friends. Trouble begins years later when both women fall in love with a young naval officer, played by VINCENT Perez (he was definitely a wonderful V find). This 1993 winner of Oscar’s Best Foreign Film takes place during the colonial years when the French withdrew from the area and the country became known as Vietnam. We enjoyed the story but the best parts of the film were the scenery and photography. Beautiful! The least enjoyable aspect was the let down of the ending. Disappointing! But overall worth watching.

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V IS ON THE VISTA

We wanted to start V month with Verve and Vigor, but it didn’t go so vell.

VEGAN NOT FIND A VEGAN RESTAURANT

We thought for V month we would try a vegan restaurant. Laura’s daughter was a vegan for a short time growing up and it’s not that easy a meal plan to stay on. One has to be really committed since restaurants don’t make it easy and so we never tried it ourselves. But nowadays more people are going the vegan path so we decided we’d see what it’s like.

A new restaurant opened, but it was a grab-and-go. Undaunted, we got on the internet and found one that sounded promising – Be Raw. It was a half hour’s drive but we were set on going vegan – at least for a day. However, after driving around the block several times before finding a spot several blocks away we found Be Raw- closed! Aargh! When we walked back to the car we saw we had parked in front of a restaurant called Yolk, so we gave up on vegan and went in for lunch. It was one of those places we’ve all been to where the menu is very tempting but the food did not live up to the billing and we left feeling bloated and dissatisfied. So the Yoke was on us.

THE LEARNING CENTER  

Va Va Voom = The quality of being interesting, exciting, or sexually appealing.

Barbara: I was wondering where that expression came from but never would have guessed that not only did it gain popularity due to a Renault but that it’s only been around since the 50s. I would have thought it started with the starlets of the 40s such as Lana Turner, Gina Lollobrigida, Bridget Bardot, Greta Garbo, etc.

But it seems it was first launched to describe the sound of an engine in the 50’s. However, when Helene Mahieu used the phrase in an ad campaign for the Clio Renaultsport 172 in 1998, the phrase became so popular that the Concise Oxford English Dictionary has just made it part of the 11th edition. So… if Charlize Theron, Bradley Cooper and a Renault were next to each other on the street, which would draw Your Va Va Voom…hmmm?

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UNBELIEVABLE

Hard to accept that our “U” month is gone and a new year is starting. But before we welcome “V” and 2019, we still have some Unposted activities to share.

An UNFINISHED Life

Laura: Starring Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez, this film is highly predictable and clichéd. It deals with domestic violence, bitterness, lives put on hold and the healing of old wounds, both those you can and can’t see. That said, it was still enjoyable to watch. I really believe timing is so important to how we experience books and films and our reactions to them are mildly influenced by our mood and expectations. In the case of An Unfinished Life, I was ready to just enjoy others working through their problems while I got to sit back and enjoy beautiful Wyoming ranch scenery. Now if only I had been sipping bourbon…

THE LEARNING CENTER

Barbara: Ululations: I know the word “ululate” and have heard it before in songs and movies taking place in the Middle East and Africa and have always been intrigued with it. When the theme from the movie Black Panther was popular on radio, I tried to do the ululations along with the woman in the track but I’m sure it didn’t sound right. So how do they do it? Are you born with the ability if you come from that part of the world, similar to being able to roll your Rs? I pulled up a YouTube video that shows how to ululate but I think I drove all the cats and dogs in my neighborhood into hiding. I’ve decided to leave it to the experts.

        MORE AND LESS:  “U” ZONE

Laura: More URGENCY. I read an article about a woman who was impressed that her recently deceased aunt had everything organized and in place. Since her aunt’s death was sudden and unexpected, her niece was amazed that things were in order and not helter skelter as in her own life. She decided to be more in the now – to start saying “yes” to that inner voice that asks if you should do it now or put it off for later…to put more urgency into her day-to-day life. This resonated with me because of my procrastination tendencies. I have worked on that this past year and continue to fight the urge to delay. However, I now have a different perspective. Instead of putting things off, I will do them “now” – because now is the time I have. I may not have time later so why not just DO IT. I’m talking about little things as well as big things…like walking by a small piece of paper that slipped under the coffee table and picking it up as soon as I see it instead of thinking I’ll take care of it when I come back into the room. Urgency is my new mantra for both the small and big matters in my world.

Less UGLINESS. I toyed with this one but I feel it strongly. Please let there be less ugliness in the world. By that I am referring to our behaviors, our words, our attitudes and our actions. Not the physical aspects of things. However, please keep those ugly Christmas sweater contests going!

Barbara: More UPBEAT. I’ve always thought of myself as more of a “glass half full” type person and I still am, but as we get older I have noticed a tendency to become a bit more curmudgeonly. Something that wouldn’t have bothered me years ago now gets me a bit riled up. Now that could be due to having previously chosen to overlook something so as not to rock the boat and maybe it’s a good thing that I now don’t feel I have to tread as lightly. But I definitely don’t want to be that person who always complains or is grouchy; you know – that person you don’t want to spend time with! So I’m filling my cup back up to 2/3s full just to have a little leeway.

Less UNDERGARMENTS. No, I don’t mean underwear. What I’m referring to is all those awful contraptions that women feel they need to wear to suck this or that in. Either I force myself to eat right and lose those extra pounds or I take the hit and embarrass myself in that dress that hugs my tummy. (Now I just have to stay out of the Spanx store.)

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U’RE NO GOOD FOR US

U was a very difficult letter in relation to activities. Barbara thought she’d try a Unicycle lesson, but one look at the cycle and she said no. We couldn’t find a place to hear Ukulele music, got rained out of the Urban Flea Market and was a day late in discovering there was an Ugly sweater bingo night.

But we’re no quitters, so we did the best we could this week.

TWO URBANS, TWO TURBANS AND TWO BOURBONS

In the spirit of a good old-fashioned girl’s pajama party, we showered, got into robes, put our hair in a towel turban and sipped bourbon while watching two shows beginning with the letter U: Urban Cowboy and Urban Legends.

The saying “You can’t go back again” is so true. When we were younger and John Travolta was in his heyday, Urban Cowboy was the movie to watch. In our memories it was a great film. But watching it again this side of – well never mind what age – we found his character to be a jerk, hers to be a tease and the script to be trite. In fact, we couldn’t even finish it.

Disappointed, we scanned the guide on Amazon Prime and found a series, Urban Legends. This time we were in luck. The premise of the show is to show the viewer three stories and you are supposed to try to guess which are true and which an urban legend. The stories were funny and bizarre and surprisingly we didn’t guess all of them correctly. As an extra bonus, they showed little animated vignettes in between the three stories. Our favorite was of a man whose memory was going. He accidently shot himself in the head and his wife found him sitting at the kitchen table, eating breakfast with a bullet hole in his head. The bullet, in essence, gave him a lobotomy and his memory was back. It was a true story and the tag line was “true but not recommended.”

That show made the afternoon worthwhile. UTTERLY delightful.

USING OUR NOODLE

At a loss to find new “U” experiences we decided to try UDON NOODLES – Udon (pronounced oo-dohn) is a popular, thick Japanese noodle made from wheat flour, salt and water. Both of us love noodles so we set out to enjoy an Udon lunch experience at Ikigai Udon, a Japanese noodle bar in Plano. Here you get to watch them actually make the noodles from scratch and can choose to have your Udon served in soup, with a sauce or in a salad. We chose the Teriyaki Chicken Soup Udon and were offered different toppings (such as tempura flakes, green onions, seaweed). The soup was delicious – flavorful and filling. They also serve tempura, which will definitely be tried at our next visit.

 

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