ROLLING ON with R

The frequent RAIN this month has limited our R outings but we weren’t about to let the weather rain on our parade entirely. We managed a few more R experiences to Remember.

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A REPERTOIRE OF RESTAURANTS

As part of a girlfriend getaway weekend to celebrate our dear friend Lee’s birthday, we took the Dallas Uptown Foodie Walk, which lasted close to five hours and included five stops plus a trolley RIDE and a quick stroll through the Klyde Warren Park. It also offered more food than any sane person should consume. We thought it would be small tastings but surprise – you get good-sized portions and enough food at each place to actually call it a day!

The first restaurant was The RUSTIC, where we had an egg frittata, polenta, avocado toast and a huge “Peanut Butter Pie.” The last got special emphasis because – well see for yourself below. Our bellies said, “you can stop now,” but it was off to Eureka! for a delicious beef, goat cheese and fig jam slider and honey drenched sweet potato fries. Now we were truly full, but the third stop was calling so we waddled over to Tacos and Tequila where we had just that. We were nearly comatose but made it to Baboush for pita bread and dips, chicken shawarma and a beef and lamb dish. Finally, our last tasting was at Bisous Bisous Patisserie for French macarons, where gratefully we were given the choice to take our two pastries to go! It was a great tour – our bellies were full, our capris were bursting and our quest for tasty food was sated! Barbara immediately took a nap when she arrived home, Lee cancelled her dinner plans and Laura refused to even look at food for the rest of the day and night.

 

REFLECTIONS from this outing:

  1. Meeting new people continues to enrich us. We met a truly delightful man from India on this food tour. He and his wife were born and raised in America but are now devoting their time to rescuing young women and children from the Red Light District in India and helping them turn their lives around. Our conversations with him were the true dessert of the day!
  2. Anything in excess loses some of its luster. For the most part, the food we sampled was quite tasty, but it was actually too much and took away a bit from the overall experience. It’s better to savor life’s treats rather than overdose!

Have you ever taken a food tour? If so, we’d love to hear about it.

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Ruminations on ROMANIA

This month we visited ROMANIA through the recent film Graduation by director Cristian Mungiu. Offering a bleak glimpse into a country still racked with bureaucratic obstacles and corruption following the collapse of Soviet Communism, this film is about ROMEO, a doctor who faces the choice of fulfilling his dream of having his daughter Eliza leave the country and study abroad vs. compromising his moral and ethical values to achieve this. Eliza has won a university scholarship and has only to pass her final exam to set everything in motion. Unfortunately the day before the exam, she is sexually assaulted and her wrist is broken, thereby lessening her chances of scoring the necessary grades to launch her future plans. This movie led to discussions of several topics dealing with a parent’s influence and expectations but what resonated most was where is the invisible line drawn between right and wrong and is it ever okay to cross the line?

Have you seen any R movies this month? Let us know.

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R ROCKS OUR WORLD

September is getting off to a Rocky start.

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ROCK ON

Over the years, each of us had “casually” collected various things – from Barbara’s vintage hats to Laura’s wood, ceramic and sculptured ducks. Collecting is fun – and a great reason to scour garage sales and antique shops. But rocks were never on our radar until now. With vague memories of our kids expressing interest in rock collecting years ago, we set out to discover both the lure and the lore of rock collecting. We hit the mother lode at Nature’s Gallery in Carrollton. This little gem was chock full of rocks and minerals of all shapes and sizes. Owner Donald Slater emerged from his workshop, rocking his polishing gear, and was so helpful in explaining the basics of rock collecting. Frankly, we’ve never met someone quite so passionate about his vocation. An avid collector since childhood, he travels all over the United States and internationally in his quest to find rocks. To our rookie eyes, his shop had something to appeal to every collector and yes, we caught a little of the rock and gem fever ourselves. Laura bought a few that spoke to her because of their shapes and color and Barbara bought two pieces called crazy lace that she can wear as pendants. We each ordered a beginner’s rock and mineral guidebook to help us continue our rock hound tendencies and are contemplating attending an upcoming Dallas trade show. We don’t know how long this ROCK FEVER will last – but for now we are looking down as we walk!

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ROCKING the RAIN AWAY

There’s not much to do on a rainy day so why not take a walk down memory lane? We thought we’d try ROCK & BREWS, a rock and roll, comfort food restaurant. If “what you see is what you get”, our vision was a bit off. Rather than being surrounded by 50s/60s music and Jimi Hendrix-type paraphernalia, we stepped into a huge, modern sports pub. Although there were some rock and roll videos and posters and rock music playing, the football games on the dozens of big screen TVs were taking center stage and the acoustics were such that you couldn’t hear the music. Good Golly Miss Molly, we missed the tunes.

On the plus side, the food was pretty terrific and the Purple Rain Drops (mini beignets filled with melted chocolate and topped with whipped cream and raspberry sauce) hit just the right chords.

 

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QUITTING Q

We had Qualms about finding enough Q to fill up our blog for October but we actually found lots of things to experience which would have been left uncovered had it not been for the ABC Life.  Here are our last Qualifying posts for the month.

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QUEEN OF KATWE

KatweOne more Queen we need to talk about – The Queen of Katwe. We would never have thought of watching this movie as it had dropped off our radar when it left the theaters two years ago. But we were looking for another Q idea and we’re glad we found it on video. It’s a very touching true story about a young girl living in Uganda who becomes a grand master in chess. We both love movies that motivate us to have a discussion after watching; we talked about the randomness of the type of situation one is born into and how the people in your life can make such a difference in what you do with what you’re given. We definitely recommend you watch it on Netflix and let us know what you found to discuss!

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QUINTESSENTIAL QOYA

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Barbara: My daughter-in-law, Linda, could easily have been born in the 60s. She is such a free spirit, one of the many things I love about her. But since she wasn’t able to be a hippy at least she lives in Austin, which is a perfect match! She’s a Life Coach and a Qoya Instructor. Perfect for Q, right? “Qoya is movement as medicine.” I describe it as a mixture of yoga and dance. Now, I have to say that Laura has been trying to get me to do yoga for years but I tend to start laughing the minute I hear an “Om” so I was a little bit leery of trying Qoya. But Laura and I gave it a whirl when Linda agreed to do a class with only us and her mom, Aila. We thoroughly enjoyed it – and there’s no way you can do it incorrectly. If you live in Austin, you should check it out at www.singingbirdhealth.com.

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No QUIET PLEASE

Laura: My Q book was a very odd memoir. As a lover and frequent user of the public library, I had high hopes for QUIET Please: Dispatches From a Public Librarian by Scott Douglas. But this book made me uncomfortable, angry and sad. It had some good points: clever use of the Dewey Decimal numbers for chapter headings, amusing footnotes and an interesting insider perspective from a young librarian. But overall I was shocked to read the nasty things the author had to say about the library, the staff and the public.  He makes outlandish observations about everything and couching his meanness in humor didn’t soften the blow of his words. When I returned the book, I couldn’t help myself – I had to ask the lady behind the desk if she had ever read this book (“no”) and if she even liked reading, since Mr. Douglas claimed most librarians did not. She put my mind at ease when she assured me that she, as well as the other staff, all loved books. But since some reviews on the internet were from librarians who admitted to sharing some of his views, I will be forever a wee bit Quamped for having read this.

MORE AND LESS: Q ZONE Scales

Barbara: MORE QUOTATIONS. I’m an avid reader and I’m always coming across wonderful and meaningful sentences or turns of phrase that really speak to me. They’re obviously not speaking loud enough because why can’t I remember them! One of my former managers used to post a thought of the day that had quotes to think about. He may have looked them up but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that some of them he heard, remembered and wanted to share. If someone offered me $500,000 right now to rattle off two great quotes I couldn’t do it. I want more Quotations in my life. I don’t want someone to find me years from now in a sleazy bar huddled over my third whiskey muttering, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” – when there are so many others to mutter…if only I could remember them!

LESS QUININE. I get a lot of cramps in my legs and am always on the hunt for another home remedy for them. One day I read that Quinine did the trick so I started Quaffing down the tonic water. Not only does it not really work that well, but now I hear it’s not even good for you. All that gin and tonic gone to waste! (Not really.) So less Quinine for this gal. I’m a mustard lady from now on! (That’s a remedy that really does work and I carry mustard packets with me wherever I go.)

Laura: MORE QUESTIONS. As a kid, I was often called “the what if girl”. Yes, you guessed it – most of my questions began with “what if?” I believe the what if thinking had a direct connection to my love of reading. After all, “what if“ suggests there is more than one way to see something…more than one way to act…more than one outcome. Lately, the “what if” questions seem to have morphed into “why” questions, and that’s okay. There’s room for both. Asking questions has been part of my nature for ages, and seeking answers never gets old.

LESS QUINOA. I have nothing against Quinoa but I feel the amount of attention it gets is a bit unfair to rice. Rice has been around forever, with brown rice elevating its status in the health arena – and then quinoa, with its fancy spelling and pronunciation comes along and bumps rice down a few notches. Quinoa is everywhere and some food associations even dubbed 2013 the official year of quinoa. Its popularity is still strong and it will be popping up in unexpected places soon – like in mac and cheese! I’m hoping rice makes a sexy comeback soon and gives quinoa a little nudge.

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A VISIT TO AND FROM THE QUEEN

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Pulpwood QUEENS book club

Several years ago Laura stumbled on a story about a book club called Pulpwood QUEENS. It was started by a free spirit named Kathy Murphy who combined her hair styling skills with her love of books and opened a beauty salon/book store aptly called Beauty and the Book. From there, it grew into an international book club with 725+chapters, including ours: The Collin County Pulpwood Queens. This month the QUEEN herself (Kathy Murphy) came to our meeting to discuss Gentleman of Moscow and show us her new line of art and clothing. CLUB2

What we definitely enjoy most is Kathy’s yearly Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend. Hundreds of fellow, tiara-wearing book lovers get together each year to hear authors talk about their books. However, unlike any other book festival, we really get to know the authors personally. They even serve dinner one night. Authors are our movie stars; meeting Alice Hoffman and Jamie Ford was more exciting than if we were to meet Ryan Reynolds. IMG_0912And who can beat the zany Great Ball of Hair on Saturday night? Last year’s theme was Bohemian Rhapsody and, as former hippies, we knew just how to dress. We’ve also had fun with Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend . And who could pass up the experience of going into a gas station to get directions in these get ups?!

This coming January, the theme is How the West Was Won, so you know we’re brushing off cowgirl hats and polishing up our boots. We’d love to wrangle some more of our friends into the group – so don’t be shy about moseying on down to Nacogdoches with us! Check it out at http://www.thepulpwoodqueens.com/

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QUEEN OF SHEBA Restaurant

When we were little girls, if anyone, including us, were to act like they were “all that” our mom would ask: “Who does she think she is, the Queen of Sheba?” Never once, until Q month, did we stop to wonder who the real Queen of Sheba was. From exploring the internet, we can see where the expression originated since she came to Solomon with all kinds of rich gifts – spices and gems.

So imagine how excited we were that there is a restaurant named QUEEN OF SHEBA and it serves Ethiopian food, which was a new experience for us, albeit it not a Q. Ethiopian food definitely is reminiscent of Sheba in that it has a rich dose of spices in everything from the veggies to the coffee (which Laura just had to buy a pound of!). We enjoyed it but the one thing that took us a bit of getting used to was the bread called Injera. Looks a little bit like a squishy brick colored pancake, rolled up like a taco but the consistency and taste is hard to describe. If any of you try it, let us know what you think.

We’d like to think that Mom would have gotten a kick out of our eating here.

The Quirkiness of Q

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Laura: In thinking about what I wanted to study for the month of Q, the first thing that came to mind was the question: “Why is Q almost always followed by U?” I figured that long ago, Q chose U as its best friend and a pact was made to appear in public most of the time. Obviously, it was not that simple so I found a great little video on youtube with delightful cartoonish drawings that explains it best. To sum it up, Q and U got together to replicate sounds in the language of the Normans, the French, the Etruscans and the Phoenicians. If you’re interested, check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9GJzn_0U9U. But one thing I find extremely Quirky is that when S precedes QU, you get most words that have a slight negative twist to them. Consider squalor, squish, squash, squeeze, squander, squeamish, squirrelly, to cite a few. I wonder what squabble set this in motion?

Barbara: Q and U are obviously close friends but P has been vying for Q’s attention for quite some time. I checked to see where the expression “Mind your Ps and Qs” originated.  Surprisingly there was not a good consensus but instead several interpretations. Mind your pints and quarts was one since bartenders had to tally up their take; there’s really nothing to support this, though, so I attribute it to the drunk bartenders. Mind your pea and queue came from the 18th century but since a pea was a coat and a queue was a wig only someone who was Quackers could confuse those.

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The QUEST for Q Continues

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Barbara: “Real men don’t eat QUICHE,” but we do and this time in a very special restaurant called Hugs Café in McKinney, Texas. Hugs is the creation and passion of founder and president Ruth Thompson.

“Our goal is to empower adults with special needs to change their lives for the better by creating jobs and providing extensive training every day. We’re changing the world, one hug at a time.”

Like their sign says, “Hugs are Welcome”, and so were we.  When was the last time you were served lunch by a smiling waiter or had your hand shaken by a cashier? And the Quiche and turkey sandwich with peach chutney were really good. A must see when shopping in McKinney Square.

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Laura: In searching for a film set in QUEBEC, I chose the entertaining dark comedy thriller, Bon Cop, Bad Cop. Starring Patrick Huard and Colm Feore, this buddy cop movie distinguishes itself on being bilingual and providing a glimpse into how the Anglos and Francos coexist. When a body is found exactly on the border between Quebec and Ontario, an English cop and a French cop reluctantly partner up to solve the case. The banter between these two and their cultural clashes are the strength and heart of this movie. The more you know about Canada’s culture, the more inside jokes and references you will pick up. Since my knowledge is quite limited, I’m sure I missed a great many quips but totally enjoyed the movie anyway. Although I chuckled throughout (the quirky coroner’s explanation of the first victim’s cause of death was one of my favorite bits), the movie was not without its violence and tension.

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Barbara: I personally love books that either switch between two viewpoints or between past and present. The Alice Network by Kate QUINN did both. The characters portrayed in this historical fiction about female spies during WW1 really pulled me in…not enough to make me want to become a spy but you’d have to do a lot of pulling for that. A recommend for sure.

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A “Q” Quandary

 

Having taken a sabbatical of sorts from this blog, I am now ready to restart. Plus, I have a willing and able co-blogger with whom to share the joy of journaling the ABC Life – my sister! Barbara was an avid commentator previously and now joins me at the helm.

The Quandary: deciding between restarting with A or picking up with Q. However, since we’ve both lived the ABC Life from A to P, Q won out, with nary a Quarrel nor Quibble.

So let the Quest for Q begin!

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Barbara: We’ve always thought of Quilts as “patchwork” so we were pretty amazed at the variety displayed at the QUILT Show in Plano. There were some made from remnants but more often from elaborate patterns and even surprisingly masks made by Quilting. The flowered quilt in the picture was the result of a “Chopped” challenge. Quilters were given a stack of materials and told to create a quilt from them. Quilting can be as simple or complex as you want it to be but it’s a hobby that can definitely lead to new friendships. Since I generally get carried away, I started planning my first quilt but came to my senses before we left.

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Laura: Very few restaurants begin with “Q”, so lucky for us to have found  QDOBA Mexican Eats in Richardson. It’s an informal place where you walk to the counter and customize your dish with the help of the friendly staff. Bonus: Queso and guacamole are always added at no charge! We tried the Quesadillas (of course) and a brisket burrito bowl. Both were delicious and of ample size, thereby satisfying both our Quality and Quantity check marks.

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All of P in one Post

It’s only fitting that I end this year, putting all my P experiences into one post. This year has been one of terrible PROCRASTINATION. (I believe the tendency to put things off runs in my genes: I know my sister and at least one cousin claim this gene deficiency as well.)

The primary motivtion to living the abc life is to consciously seek new experiences. I love doing this and truly believe it adds quality to my life.

So here is the recounting of my December “P” month.

2 points for PLUM PUDDING. While in San Francisco this month, I headed out to my favorite Irish bakery. They had samples of Plum Pudding – which I’d never tasted – and it was delicious. (Did you know there are no plums in this baby? It’s thought that back in the 17th century the word “plum” referred to raisins or other fruits.)

2 points for PITCH PERFECT, a dollar movie experience that paid off big. Thoroughly enjoyable if you like a capella and silly college musicals. This film doesn’t take itself seriously but was thoroughly entertaining and had us wishing we could sing like that and shake our booties too!

2 points for a cocktail combining PROSECCO and POMEGRANATE called Skinny Bubbles. Not bad, but not memorable either. The restaurant, Deno’s in Plano, was a new experience and a pleasant surprise. A bit pricey for what you get but I will return because the food was good, the place was comfortable and convenient for us and the service friendly and accommodating.

1 point for The PARIS Wife by PAULA McClain. Ever since I went to Paris two years ago, I gravitate to stories of this city. This book was about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley and all their fabulous literary friends: Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald to name a few. Not a lifestyle I could or would maintain, but an interesting read.

Attempted to try the restaurant Papa Lopez but they closed early that day so it was a no go because of their no show.

This month I have been PENSIVE, giving some thought to who I am, what I’m doing and what I want. Haven’t found the answers but I do know a few things – and thus launches my new MORE or LESS zone, which I will do monthly.

I will work on having MORE PATIENCE. I used to be quite a patient person but as I get older, I’m more quick to get annoyed or bothered with people or situations. Having patience makes your life much easier and I will make a conscious effort this coming year to recapture the more mellow Laura.

I want LESS PILES. Piles of paper and stuff are annoying. They have to go! But it’s not just stacks of material things. When you pile up stacks of feelings, they take a toll as well. By new motto: Let it slide. Let it go.

Well that’s it. Another year of the abc life. Can’t wait for Q month tomorrow.

Thank you all for following along and I truly love when you comment.

Happy New Year!

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